According to my git repository, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the start of my first major commerical game project, Stop That Hero!.
I’m not celebrating because it’s not a good milestone to hit. I didn’t know how long it would be to take the Ludum Dare #18 prototype and make it into a full commercial-quality game, but I did not expect it to take a year. In fact, when the 2010 Ludum Dare October Challenge was announced, I thought a month sounded like a good time period. If it took three days to prototype the game, surely four weeks would be plenty of time to polish it up and release it.
Tomorrow is October 1st and the 2011 Ludum Dare October Challenge (even though an announcement went out saying that it started already), and I was hoping to have the game released before then. In fact, I thought I would have something released by today, but there were some AI issues I tackled last week that I’m still working on.
But eventually I am going to release my game, and I realized that I have never accepted payments for a video game before. Until last month, I wasn’t even registered with a payment processor.
So last night, I posted a few pre-order forms on the Stop That Hero! website. If you want to get the game when it is released for Windows, Linux, or Mac, you can reserve your copy of the game now.
In posting the pre-order, I realized I made a big step. I had some nervousness, partly because I’m selling a game that isn’t released yet, and partly because I’m asking for payment. I’ve never done it before.
It’s possible that no one will care, that no one will even click on the links to buy, but that’s not the point. The point was that I decided to ask people to do so in the first place.
You can’t make money without asking for it, and I decided that until the game is released, the worst-case is that no one bothers to pay me for it. But if I don’t ask for pre-orders, then there is a 100% chance that I won’t get paid anyway.
I’ve taken a step to change that certainty into a possibility, and it’s one of those moments that makes you feel good to run your own business. I don’t have to accept circumstances. I can take action to change them.
In this case, my game is taking longer than expected to make, and I could decide that it means delaying the possibility of sales until the game is released, but I could also try something to see how it goes. The worst case is that it has no effect, that no one will reserve their copy of the game, but there’s a potential now for a lot of upside.
And now I’ll get back to work. Eventually any pre-orders have to get fulfilled with a real game, and I’d like that to be before the end of another month.