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The Fox Who Was Raised By Robots

William David, level designer of Swing Swing Submarine, explains how poorly Tetrobot and Co. sells, and what it means for the future of their next game Seasons after Fall.

If the name of Swing Swing Submarine rings a bell with you, it's probably that you are one of the 300.000 players who tried our first game: Blocks That Matter. We released it in 2011 on Xbox Live Indie Games, it won the Dream.Build.Play Challenge and then we ported it on Windows, Mac, Linux.

Two years after, in October 2013, we released its sequel, Tetrobot and Co., a pure puzzle game. Unfortunately, that second game has not found its public: only 6.000 people bought Tetrobot and Co., in 5 months. I never thought we can perform that bad, even while being on Steam, the biggest digital distribution platform, from day one.

The development of Tetrobot and Co. cost us 150.000 dollars, and so far it has generated only a third of this sum.

You can imagine how sad we are to see Tetrobot and Co. being ignored, putting our team of 5 french developers in a quite uncomfortable situation. Today, I read that some developers are depressed because they are successful. I wish we had this kind of problem right now.

Anyway, how could you know that Tetrobot and Co. even exists? Few reviews are available online and few youtubers gave it a try. Tetrobot and Co. has no goat characters, no gorgeous 3D graphics, no narrative twists and no infinite mode. Tetrobot and Co. is just a well crafted puzzle game.

Even if the videogame market is saturated, even if Steam doesn't want to push small unknown games anymore, we are the ones to blame. We should have spent more time trying to sell it instead of just making it. We learned the lesson the hard way.

In our misfortune, we are lucky: everyday, we receive mails from our most dedicated players, telling us how much they love Tetrobot and Co. and how excited they are to play our next game, Seasons after Fall. When motivation starts to fade, we know we can open a tab and read some great articles from Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Indie Statik, to remember that the game we made is not perfect but that it still has charming 2D graphics, nice game mechanics, challenging puzzles and an amazing soundtrack. All these little things keep us motivated...plus the fact that we still love making games.

Last week, 5 months after Tetrobot and Co. release, we took a decison: we decided to cut the price of Tetrobot and Co. and we created a permanent discount for all Blocks That Matter owners on Steam, to thank them for having supported us until now. Of course, we also hope that when they finally hear about Tetrobot and Co., at some point, they might buy it and allow us to create Seasons after Fall more easily.

I am a developer, but I am also a player. I love playing games, all kind of games, and each time the creators that I love release a new one, I buy it, I play it, if it is good I tell my friends, if it is great I shout as loud as I can, and if it is not that good I try to explain why to the developers. I do this because I want small developers, like us, to keep improving, make better games, express their opinions and surprise us. I like to think that my money, and my support, help them to do that.

Seasons after Fall is meant to be released in 2015.
Right now, we have enough money to keep working on it until August 2014.

All is not lost: we can still try to port Tetrobot and Co. on other platforms, try to participate in bundles, open pre-orders or plan a crowdfunding campain, and we'll probably have to do all of these things. I just hope it will not be the last time.

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