Short Circuit was an XBox 360 puzzle games based on the popular handheld game produced by Tiger Electronics. In Short Circuit, you would be faced with a grid of lights ranging from 3×3 to 10×10. The objective was to turn all the lights off by clicking on a light one at a time. Each time you clicked on a light, it would toggle the lights above, below, left, and right of it. Short Circuit introduced a new type of light called the three-stage light that operated similar to a stop light.
Get Short Circuit on XBox360 here.
Get Short Circuit for Android here.
As of March 11th, Short Circuit has sold a whopping 26 copies and had 474 copies of the demo downloaded. That means that the game currently is holding a trial to purchase ratio of 5.49%. From what I hear that’s a decent figure, but taking a second look at the game I think it could do better. The first problem that I see is that currently the demo only shows six levels for each classic and advanced levels. Anyone who downloads the demo would have no way of knowing that there are actually 35 levels per mode, adding up to 70 total levels of game play. Instead, the demo only shows them 12 total levels. I’m thinking that there are some gamers out there who are playing those 12 levels and thinking they have beaten the game. This needs to be fixed and quickly. This also brings us to discussing our future plans for the game. First, I want to fix the problems that I already know about. This means changing the demo to show the fact that there are actually 70 total levels. This also means that I need to completely remove the ability to use ANY controller. As much as I may think it’s so cliche, I don’t really have much of a choice but to include a “Press Start” screen and lock the controller for the rest of the game based on that. Finally, the last major fix is to adjust the screen drawing throughout the game to make full use of the “title safe area” of the screen because it’s been brought to my attention that a few screens do exceed that area of screenspace. At this moment, that’s all the changes that I really have planned for this game. I am tossing around the idea of recoding this game for the PC and trying to sell it on Steam, but that enters me into the arena where piracy is nearly rampant, the area of the video game market that I’ve been hoping to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather code my games for the PC because it’s just so much easier than coding for a console, but the console is a safer market for small indie developers like myself, even though we don’t get very many sales there. I know that some people are going to read the intro to this post and think that my sales figures are rather crappy. I’ll be honest, they do suck, but they are actually doing about what I expected them to. Short Circuit is a pure puzzle game, and not everyone likes those kinds of games. Short Circuit is catered to a very specific market, and unfortunately that market is very small in the Indie game arena. Official games from major companies that fit into this same category of games sell very well, but that’s because they have the funding for more advertising, or because thier games are sitting upon a store shelf somewhere where a puzzle gamer can find them. What I’m saying is that I don’t really expect every Xbox puzzle gamer to be checking the Indie game area for quality puzzle games. In fact, I suspect that only a very small percentage of all Xbox puzzle gamers will actually look in the Indie game section. My scepticism in the Xbox Indie game market is a driving force behind why I’ve been considering translating Short Ciruit to a PC game and selling it on Steam. What does this mean for the Xbox fans? Let me answer it this way, regardless of what system it is on, if it is selling well, I plan on continuing to maintain the game across all platforms that it was released upon. This means that if I create new content for the PC, then Xbox fans can expect to get it on the Xbox as well, just not at the same time. I refuse to hold up any one particular release for other releases. At this time 505 Games is holding up one console while waiting for another console to approve it’s software. I personally think this strategy totally sucks, so I refuse to follow in thier example. If my game gets approved for release on one system it will be released on that system and it will not wait until its approved for release on another system. Overall, I’m hoping that the larger user base that exists on Steam will make Short Circuit a better selling game than it is. I don’t expect to get rich off of this game, but I would like to actually earn more than 70 cents per day, which is approximately how much I’ve been earning on the Xbox.
It’s very humbling to see someone else playing a video game that I built, and it’s an awesome feeling watching someone that I have never met play it in a You-Tube video That’s a feeling that I simply can’t describe effectively. I entered into this adventure of creating Short Circuit so that I could finally get the game out of my head. It wasn’t directly an attempt at making money, though I must admit that it did play a small role. The reality of it was that I wanted to see if I could finish a game and get it to the Xbox Indie Marketplace. It’s obvious by now that I succeeded in my endeavors. The game is on the Xbox Indie Marketplace, and it is complete as it stands. Don’t take this to mean that I’m done with the game, because I’ve still got more features that I want to add to it later if it sells well enough. If it sells well enough, then I will also be porting it over to the PC. I’d like to also port it over to the Android and iOS markets as well, but that really is dependent upon sales since I have absolutely no experience programming for those devices. Porting the game is mostly dependent upon sales because in many cases I’d have to hire another person or company to do the code translation. With that said, the Xbox reporting has finally opened up, and has provided me a glimpse of the sales figures for the very first day. I have to be honest, I didn’t expect these numbers to be very high. I published Short Circuit at around 8 or 9pm EST, so these first day figures only cover about 3 to 4 hours. I fully expected to have only one or two trial downloads, and I didn’t expect any sales yet. What I actually got for sales figures for those few hours, is actually what I was expecting to get for the whole week. I’m totally amazed at how well it really is doing, and I have to admit that I’m very proud of it. In those first few hours that Short Circuit was available, it was downloaded 127 times, and 5 copies were sold. That may not sound like much, but you have to remember that these are sales figures for a brand new game that really wasn’t advertised, and that these figures only cover a span of a few hours after the game was first published. I don’t know what to expect, but these sales figures may be an indication of some really cool stuff ahead.
As promised, RealLAGgamers has provided a review of the Full version of Short Circuit. I’d highly recommend that you watch his video, and please be sure to give him a like to let him know he’s doing a good job. Anyways, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GEXYXgYXPc Previously I’ve mentioned that there was a complaint about the total size of the game, and I explained that it was due to the number of songs files that were included in the game. There are a total of 25 full length songs included in the game and that puts the game to a whopping 100 MB in size. That’s one fifth of the maximum size an Indie game is allowed to be on the Xbox Indie Marketplace. Because of the size of the game, and because of the complaint, I had been considering removing 15 of the songs from the game in an effort to reduce the overall size of the game. However, RealLAGgamers brought up a good point in his video, that the variety of songs helps to prevent the player from getting bored with the background music. After some careful consideration on this, I’ve decided that all 25 songs will remain in the game.
Ever since its release, I’ve been patiently waiting for the reporting on the Xbox Indie Developer site to unlock so that I can see the statistics on how well it’s doing. As of a few days ago I started sending codes to various video game news sites in an attempt to get them to review my game. Today, as I’m stumbling across the internet, I find that a You-Tube review has already been made, and not by one of the media sites that I’ve been contacting. RealLAGgamers reviewed the demo, and here’s the link to the review. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SQgLpk974E&feature=youtube_gdata I’ve since sent him a code so that he can review the full version, since the demo doesn’t give any indication to how many levels there are. RealLAGgamers has said that he’ll be doing a new review of the full game this time, so we can look forward to that. Once he’s done, I’ll post the link here again for you.
Short Circuit has passed through the peer review process and is now available for purchase on the Xbox Indie Marketplace. If you’ve been following this development blog then you would know there are some minor bugs in the game that only affect users when they first purchase the game. Rest assured that these bugs will be repaired. The process of repairing bugs is the same as getting the game published in the first place, so it may take a little bit to get the patch out, but it will be coming. During this bug fix process, I may also be removing some of the songs in an effort to cut down on the overall size of the game. Currently, with 25 full length songs included, the game reaches a whopping 100 MB. Jessica, my development advisor, and my wife, thinks that I should cut the game down to just 10 songs, leaving one song for the main menu, one song for the level complete screen, and 8 songs for the random selection for the game screen. I’ve thought about her advice and I think that she is right in her consideration, as that may help to cut the game down by over half of its total size. We’ll also have some other reprogramming to do to ensure the game complies 100% with the title safe region. Apparently the game screen is slightly out of that region so may not appear correctly on all screens. Lastly, on reviewer suggestion, I’ll be removing the capabilities to use more than one controller. There are still some issues with using additional controllers and removing the ability to use more than one controller will eliminate that entirely. As for the Short Circuit Lottery, unfortunately the lottery recieved absolutely zero entries. I guess that just goes to show how bad I am at social marketing. Either way, I’ve cancelled the lottery. However, I still have all those unused codes to hand out. So here’s what I’ll do; I’m going to give a code to the first 30 people that request one. But you have to request it through Xbox messenger, this way I know that you do have a valid Xbox live account. The first thirty people who request a code through Xbox messenger will recieve their codes also through Xbox messenger. If you send me a request for a code, please be patient as it may sometimes take me a day or two to get back to you. Rest assured, I will respond to all requests, even if I’ve run out of codes.
Short Circuit is now 75 percent of the way through peer review. That means that as long as no major bugs are discovered, we only need one or two more reviews for it to be ready to go to the Marketplace. This most recent review was extremely short and to the point. In fact, the reviewer only said four words, “No Problems found,” and “Pass”. Of course the “Pass” is the most important word out of those four for you, but that “No Problems found” is very important for me, as that means that I’m right on track and don’t have a whole lot to fix after it’s released.
As of this moment, Short Circuit is about 58% of the way through peer review. The last few reviews have literally had nothing negative to say about the game. In fact, one of the most recent reviews stated that they had gone all the way through the “Evil List” and found nothing. For you non-indie developers, the “Evil List” is a list of tests that developers reviewing a game should perform upon a game in an attempt to make the game crash or give specific errors. They are common issues that result in failing reviews for most indie games. The fact that my game passed all the evil tests, means that there is a very low chance of it actually failing the review process now. At any rate, the game only needs a few more positive reviews and it will be ready to publish on the Xbox. I’ve decided to not allow it to automatically publish once it’s approved, instead I’m going to select the date upon which it will be released. I think that I will be able to give away the codes for the game before I actually make it available on the Xbox Marketplace, and if so then I’m going to host and close out the lottery before I release the game so that the winners will receive their codes at least the day before I release the game. Yes, that means they will be able to play Short Circuit before everyone else.
Short Circuit has been back in peer review now for about three days, and it has gotten one review in that time. This latest review points out what I consider to be a very minor bug. The reviewer suggests that I pull the game back and fix it, but unless some major bugs are revealed I think I’m going to let it ride. What was the bug, you ask? According to the reviewer, if you start the game in trial mode and purchase the game, the main menu doesn’t update from the trial version to the full version until you enter and exit some other menu option. Obviously, this is a design flaw, and a fairly easy fix at that, but does it really require me to pull the game and wait another 7 days before I can submit it for release again? The reviewer seemed to think that it would be a point of contention with people purchasing the game, but as is evident by the nature of the bug, it resolves itself fairly quickly and I don’t think that most people would even notice it. That said, I’m going to let the game go through with this small bug, and release the fix later with additional content. Yes, I just mentioned additional content. As i stated on the front page of the site, I fully intend to keep maintaining my games as long as there appears to be an interest in the games. This game is no exception, just because it’s a puzzle game doesn’t mean that I can’t find some way of pushing in new features that might make the game more enjoyable. “So, what is this new content you speak of?” I’m so glad you asked that question! Right now, Short Circuit relies upon a set specification of levels. Once you beat the 35 classic levels and 35 advanced levels there isn’t anything else to the game. I want to fix that problem with a random level generator. Essentially, I plan to add an additional game mode where the player can select the size of the grid, whether or not the multi-phase lights are used, and the par for the level. The game should then use those rules to design a level the same way that I did when I created the game, and allow the player to play it. When the player beats such a level, it should give the player the option of playing another level with the same rules, or to change the rules. “When can we expect this new content?” For now, I’ll say that I’ll begin working on this new content once Short Circuit is out on the Xbox marketplace. I don’t know how long it will take me to get this new content in place, nor can I know how long it will take to get it through the review process, but I can say that I do expect it will take more than a month after Short Circuit goes public.
So, during testing it was discovered that when I removed the extra references, a few not quite so extra references were removed as well. This had the wonderful effect of not displaying the game at all. Essentially, instead of displaying all those pretty screens that I’ve worked so hard on, it displayed only a single display of flashing colors. It’s kind of like what you might have seen on the older Atarii or NES games. You know those old systems that used cartridges? Well, if you didn’t push the cartridge in all the way, instead of getting the game, you’d get a flashing screen of colors. I’ve looked back through and determined which reference it was that was removed and put the bugger back in. I plan on testing it this week, and I should be sending it back for round 4 by Friday evening. There is a lesson to be learned here. I’ve been building my game on a system that didn’t have direct access to the XBox. This meant that I was testing my game on my PC, not on my XBox. When I tested this most recent release, it worked perfectly on my PC. Obviously the problem was only affecting the XBox version of the game. The lesson learned here is, always test the game on the target system before you publish. Now, please excuse me as I go slap myself around a bit for not already following that lesson.
I have sent Short Circuit for its third round of peer review. I feel confident that it will make it through peer review this time, and I look forward to finally seeing it on the Xbox Indie Marketplace where it belongs. During its second round of peer review it only got one review, and it noted that when the game started up, it expected input from the first controller for selecting which hard drive to load it’s saved data from. The reviewer said they weren’t sure if that was enough to fail the game, but I chose to pull the game back from review anyways. I’m not Microsoft, and I’m not going to knowingly release buggy software like they do. I’ve gone back through all the code in the game to ensure it no longer specifies which controller to expect input from. Now whenever a system dialog has to open I’m supplying the id of the last controller to provide input that the game actually used. Since there was no guarantee that the player has actually pressed anything by the time it comes to load the saved data, I’ve added a “Press Start” screen. I decided to make this screen rather plain an simple instead of going with the complex idea I had earlier so that I could publish the game sooner. Additionally, since I do allow the player to skip the company splash screen by pressing “A”, that action will now bypass the “Press Start” screen since it would no longer be needed. The last major changes I’ve made in this revision is to remove all the unnecessary references from the project, this caused the size of the finished program to be a lot smaller than it was. With its new, smaller size, I expect that everyone will be able to download the game fairly quickly even if they are on a slow internet connection.