Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mommy's Best Year in Review: 2019

Hey all, welcome to 2020! 
2019 was a monumental year for Mommy's Best Games.
We finally,
Finally,
FINALLY
released Pig Eat Ball!

Completely! It was finally released to all major consoles: PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
(Yes, it's true that it was released in 2018 to Steam, but the nice news is, the super-duper balanced polished version is out everywhere now!)

Thank you again to all who supported us through the development of the game. I've been working on it since 2013. I've always been very excited to create a true "arcade adventure" game, one in which it felt like you were playing in an extended arcade universe--and I think I've hit the mark with Pig Eat Ball.

The reviews have been great too!
We've got an average 80+ on Metacritic across all platforms, which has me beaming.


Alright I did get ahead of myself though--Pig Eat Ball hit consoles on October 18th, but let's take a look some other months.

January 


We had a big month to start off last, year--we released the 'Speedrunners' update to Pig Eat Ball. This had lots of tiny fixes to improve the flow of the game for experienced players, but also added some nice polish in general.

The work that went into this paved the way for great ports to console, later in October.

February

Testing, testing, 1, 2, ...3 consoles??
February was all about more testing and fixing console specific bugs for Pig Eat Ball.
For instance, we had a nasty hitch for a while, on Xbox One when you registered Achievements. It would slow down the game when it popped certain Achievements. Finally got it fixed!

March

Continued testing for all consoles, plus all the "fun" of submitting announcement trailers and store information to all 3 consoles for release later on. It takes a lot of work to get a game ready just for the digital storefront!


April


Excerpt from my work log during a random day in April:
"Nintendo complained about the controller descriptions, and some of the localization was broken because umlauts and other special characters were broken by importing with Unity."
Porting continues through April! Had to keep those umlauts from getting me down :)
 

Also big for April - we officially announced Pig Eat Ball would be released to Switch!


May


I developed and shipped two games in May!
Yeah, hard to believe, but in the background, I took a contract job to develop two educational games for Legends of Learning.
One game taught and reviewed probability for 7th graders (I named the game "Probably Fun" :), and the second game reviewed Scientific Notation for 8th graders (this game was called "Gobble").

Contract work like that helped even out the money before shipping a bigger title later in the year.

June


I did lots of art and code for the next BIG MBG game! Pretty much for the whole month.
Might not use any of this art, but it helped pave the way for the future of the next game.

July


 Worked on launch trailers for Pig Eat Ball. Very close to approved for all consoles.

August


PS4 Europe finally approves the game this month.  Pig Eat Ball is now certified for launch on all consoles. It is sitting in the hopper.

September


I secretly start a new contract on TWO more games! Yikes!
These are mobile games for the company Girls Make Games. Except.. I'm not a girl? Turns out they had some prototypes designed by girls in their summer camps and wanted to polish them up for launch. Here I come!

I helped design and program "Yume" and "Good Dogs Bring Joy" for Android mobile.
Google even featured the games on their store and we had some cool blog posts!


It took 6 weeks but we developed and shipped these games in late October.
(Yes as PEB shipped!)

October


Hold on to your hats, and try not to barf in them--Pig Eat Ball launched this month!

November


I start level design contract work on a secret game for another developer!
It's a paid gig, and not full-time, so I am happy with it as I can work on my own MBG games too.

December

I begin in earnest on a NEW game for Mommy's Best!
This feeds off the research I did in June.
I also continue level design for the other game.

2020

What's up for 2020?
I have an exciting, MOMMY'S BEST ACTION announcement hopefully coming this year!
All fans of run 'n' guns are going to be really excited to see it.
Talk to you soon!
-Nathan

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pig Eat Ball Splats onto Consoles!


Pig Eat Ball is out NOW on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One, and is getting glowing reviews!

Playstation Universe gave it a 9/10 saying:
All of this combines into something supremely unique in modern videogames – a classic feeling effort hat contains a completely new and unique mechanic.

and Nintendo World Report gives it a 8.5/10 saying:
Pig Eat Ball is a frantic and insane ride of a video game that blazes forth with the spirit of the likes of Pac-Man and Katamari Damacy.

Thank you for supporting me and enjoying my games over the years.
I know this isn't a run'n'gun shooter like I normally make, but I do promise you'll enjoy this one if you're on the fence. Give it a chance--you won't be disappointed.
Available now on
Nintendo Switch: eshop link
Playstation 4: store link
Xbox One: store link
Also on for your PC on Steam!



And if the barf and grossness is putting you off, please consider that there are many, many options to configure the game (you've played my past games right? I like to make sure you can configure things to your liking!)
Here is a video comparison of "turning off the barf".



The most important part is that the gross barf sound volume can be lowered complete to 0. And the majority of gross visual effects can be removed as well (though a few bosses are still kinda nasty).

I hope that gives extra confidence the game is worth your time. With 200+ action puzzle levels, the story mode is lots of fun to play, constantly changing to tickle your thinking cap. Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Console Release October 18th

Let it be known that on October 18th of 2019,
Pig Eat Ball will finally release to all consoles!
* Nintendo Switch 
(Nintendo eShop link)
* Xbox One 
(Microsoft store link)
* Playstation 4 
(Playstation store link)

Woohoo!

The Metacritic rating for the Steam version is 83!
And guess what? 
https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/pig-eat-ball-switch/
You can PRE-ORDER the game right now on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch!
Yes, please do pre-order as it helps me look better to the big, fancy console companies and publishers in the future! This means more wacky games from me if we do well here!

If you have already backed the game on the Fig crowd-funding we did, I thank you endlessly!
Your physical and digital rewards are scheduled to show up for you around the week of October 18th!

Who could have imagined I'd get to release a game on a Nintendo system?
Pretty wild!

https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/pig-eat-ball-switch/
See on October 18th!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Switch It Up

Pig Eat Ball on Nintendo Switch

The big news is Pig Eat Ball is coming to Nintendo Switch!
Yes, along with PS4 and Xbox One, you will get to play the biggest, weirdest, craziest action-adventure game on any console you want!
(Okay, not Ouya, but hey, we got the big 3 :)

FEAST your eyes on the Nintendo Switch gameplay reveal trailer for Pig Eat Ball!

We don't have a release date yet, but are working hard to secure it.
What stands in it's way?
Console testing!
Yes, for all 3 consoles, there are rigorous in-house testing and requirements set for all games.
The great news is--we have passed Microsoft Xbox One certification!
That means it's ready to go.
But before we can set a date, we want to get PS4 and Switch tests done as well.

Certification Agitation

Both Nintendo and Sony have issues with the game.
Like what issues you make ask? Crashes? Bugs? Level design problems?
Heavens no, it's silly little things, but hey, fixing these details will make a more polished game for you in the end.

For instance, for the PS4 version, when allowing you to remap the controller buttons, we didn't correctly refer to the X button as the "Cross" button.
And for Nintendo Switch, when the game tries to log your score to the global Leaderboards, if it can't connect to the internet, instead of our simple message telling you there's not internet connection, we are supposed to display the specific Nintendo error code telling you, that you can't connect.

But the BEST had to be when we found out we had unregistered UGC. As in "User Generated Content". Now keep in mind, we don't have the level editor on the console version. That's only available in the Steam version.
So how was anyone able to "make" anything on the console versions?
LEADERBOARD NAMES! Yes, because we have global leaderboards for each level, and because you have a username that gets shown, this is now technically "User Generated Content" in 2019.

So yeah, it's stuff like that!
So we're fixing it all, which takes some time, and then sending it back into review takes a lot more time.


 In the meantime, enjoy how cool Pig Eat Ball looks on a real Switch!

Summer Vacation

But fret not!
We are very, very close and have hope to secure a release date soon!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mommy's Best Year in Review: 2018

2018.
Finally.
The year we finished Pig Eat Ball!
I started the game in January of 2013, as a game jam project for the Ouya.
And in 2018, after massive design changes, and growth for the game, we finished our biggest game
yet!

Sit back and put yourself one year ago, and let's look at the wacky details of what Mommy's Best Games was up to in 2018.

January 

A secret is brewing!
We are approved to do a Fig crowd-funding campaign! But we couldn't tell anyone yet.

The soda-pop cans could cause you problems, but you could also solve puzzles with them.


We spent most of this month working hard on polishing up World 4 in Pig Eat Ball.
There are 5 GIANT worlds in Pig Eat Ball.
Each world in the game has many necessary parts:
  • 4 Overworlds
  • 40+ action levels
  • Boss
  • Mid-boss
  • 4+ NPCs and their puzzles
  • 4+ Disguises in overworld puzzles
  • Pillbug centerpiece gameplay/puzzle
For this month we were bouncing around, finishing up the NPCs and the bosses. Here's a detailed post I did about how I design each gameplay object to have at least 2 uses/puzzle elements in the game.

February

Work continued on World 4 "Kitchen Chaos".

And the big news internally was us getting everything ready for the Fig campaign to launch.
The Fig campaign had many tiers and rewards

It takes a long time to create all the art and assets for a crowd-funding campaign! I'm sure you've read that before, but if you're in development, believe it! It will hurt your development productivity on the main game. File this under "marketing time". It's a lot of work.
At the end of the month we launched our Fig campaign!

March

While development kept happening, there was a lot of "promotion and marketing" work this month.
The Fig campaign continued, and it was hard work asking for money and getting everyone excited to fund it.

I detail my ideas for a nice difficulty curve. It should not be smooth!


I traveled to GDC was selected to give a talk on Level Design and Difficulty Curves. It was very fun, and I loved getting into the nitty-gritty details about design. It takes a long time to get a talk polished and ready for a big show like GDC though! I think I worked on it off and on for a few months! Here's the full talk on the GDC Vault.

April

Great news this month--the Fig crowd-funding campaign was a success. We hit our goal!
I rested easy for a bit there.

I also showed the game at PAX East in the Indie Megabooth for the first time! That was a good connection to make.
Stylish picture of my PAX East booth

We continue work on World 5.
Turns out we cut a lot from Pig Eat Ball, as it was simply too big already!
There was going to be a World 6! It's about half done. Maybe I'll release it as DLC some day or in a free update.

May

As we finished up World 5 core work, all the details still left to complete come in to focus.
Localization is a huge amount of work, and I find it to be a pain. I tend to develop in a loose style, adding a new hint, or bit of dialog here or there, to improve the game. That won't fly if you're translating the game to multiple languages! You have to translate all those bits. We had thousands of lines of text to translate for Pig Eat Ball.

We spent a good portion of the money from the Fig campaign on localizing to 5 languages! And now thanks for another deal, the game is also available in Chinese.

June

"A level called Dead Space :) one of the challenge levels in World 1"
More details to finish in the game include: cut-scenes, and "challenge" clams. Gold "challenge" Clams are to ensure the game has extra tough levels once you beat the main game. I love that feeling a big, full action-adventure game. You've maxed out all your abilities, and now you want a REAL challenge! This month was spent making extra tough levels, and fitting them into all 5 worlds.

July

We were finishing up Achievements, balancing all level "medal times", and generally playtesting and polishing. Each level has a goal of eating all the balls, but they are also timed, with online leaderboards to give you great replay value. Each level has an amount of time to beat, to get a Silver and Gold medal.
We spent some time balancing all these times this month, and finishing up the challenge levels.

August


Alpha Pig!
We announce the game has officially hit the Alpha stage, meaning all content is in the game, and now only bugs remain.
It's a mad dash to the finish!

September


I travel to PAX West again with the Indie MegaBooth and show the game.
The decision is made to limit the initial release to PC/Mac/Linux, instead of also consoles. Keep in mind, this is the first time we've supported Mac and Linux for a Mommy's Best Games release! It is still 3 platforms and takes extra time to support.
 
Many more bugs were fixed, and on September 28, 2018, we finally release Pig Eat Ball to Steam, itch.io, and Green Man Gaming. Humble Store followed later.

October

Reviews are coming in...


...and they're loving it!
I'm so happy and excited.
Reviewers are coming into the game cold and loving it. This is amazing!
I continue marketing and outreach for the game.

Some players are getting through the game, and asking for some balance changes.
Early in October we release the first major update, complete with a new Disguise to reward expert players!

November

We finally end up with an incredible 83% on Metacritic!


I continue to promote the game, but now we switch over the console development.
John Meister and his team at Super Soul, in nearby Lexington Kentucky, work hard to get the framerate up and the load times down for the PS4 and Xbox One versions.

Meanwhile... a secret, new game starts development.

December

Most of this month was spent to continue optimizing the game.
It takes a lot of work and focus to optimize the game for consoles.
For instance, when the game launched on for home computers, the framerate was generally rock-solid for everyone, 60fps and better.
But for consoles, we had to work hard to get 60fps.

One type of optimization was with the breakable crates, of which some levels have hundreds.
Originally the crates would draw their shadow, then draw the crate. This was found to be slow. So I reworked the art for the crates so they now have the "shadow" built into a single sprite. This allows them to be drawn with one call to the process/graphics card, which is great!
Dozens of optimizations like this, allowed for the good framerate we now have on consoles.

2018 Wrapped


Thank you so much for the support! I'm thrilled to have finally released this massive game.
Stay with me, and please do continue to help cheer us on in 2019, when we'll be bringing Pig Eat Ball to consoles. PS4, Xbox One.. and maybe one more console!