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

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!


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