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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Alpha Coming Soon...

I'm happy to report that I just played through the final level of Lifeless Planet! There's a few minor issues to address, but full Alpha is pretty much done. Wow. Hard to believe after working on this amazing project for over two years, but we're finally very near the end. I'll post a full update in the next couple of days with details of the progress, and (more importantly) how you can get early access to Lifeless Planet!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lifeless Planet Will Be Coming to Steam!

Just a short—but big—announcement: Lifeless Planet has been accepted for PC/Mac distribution on Steam! I'll have more details to share soon...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Catching Up with The News...

Between our Kickstarter page, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Indie DB page, MEGABOOTH page, and email list, I sometimes fall behind updating the official homepage!'s time to catch up:

PAX Prime / Indie MEGABOOTH Report 


Above: Even in my homemade space suit, I assure you I wasn't the biggest nerd at PAX (but close!)

I'm happy to report our two days in the indie MEGABOOTH were hugely successful! We handed out around two thousand buttons and business cards, showed the trailer to dozens of people and got very positive feedback on the playable preview build. Lots of press and platform reps came by the booth as well. I met Microsoft, Nintendo and Valve reps, and while I have no announcements to make, the odds of wider distribution are good!

Even though I had to take time off production and it was very tiring (I lost my voice from two days of 10+ hrs "shout-talking"), PAX was very well worth it. I am newly energized to finish up the remaining work, and the sense of community in the indie MEGABOOTH was encouraging. We've now got a lot more very excited people looking forward to Lifeless Planet...

Press Highlights:

Top-mentioned indie game in the Major Nelson Pax podcast (listen at about 6 and 11 mins): 

Tweeted about by Tim Schafer:
(yes, THE Tim Schafer!)

GameTrailers interview video (at 2:53):

Gamesradar 10 Second PAX Pitches video (at 1:40):


Progress Report


I get so excited with the progress I'm making on the game...until I look at the calendar. Time is simply not my friend, but that doesn't mean things aren't rolling along. I'm thrilled with how the end of the game is coming together, but of course I won't spoil it for you.

In the last few weeks, I finished laying-out the final levels. Then I went back and began tying together earlier levels to make the game playable end-to-end. I'll have a few more weeks of this work, but it's good to finally see all of these diverse parts coming together into the final product.

At this point, I'm shooting for release by end of the year or early next year. I'm running out of days for that, but I certainly hope to at least have a fully playable build to testers by end of the year.


New Screens


I want to leave you with a few new screens from some of the levels I recently finished up:


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Play Lifeless Planet in the Indie MEGABOOTH at PAX Prime August 30 & 31

I'm very happy to announce that Lifeless Planet has been invited to exhibit in the Indie MEGABOOTH Friday and Saturday August 30 & 31 at PAX Prime in Seattle. We'll be in the Minibooth section!

This is a huge opportunity for exposure for Lifeless Planet. The MEGABOOTH is the largest ever--and will be *the largest booth at PAX this year! Over 5,400 square feet of space and more than 80 games, the MEGABOOTH will be a huge attraction for gamers and press.

If you're one of the lucky people with PAX tickets, please come by the booth and say hello. While you're there, you'll be able to play the game. Even if you're a Kickstarter beta tester, I'll have new content you haven't seen yet. Note we're in the Minibooth so we're only exhibiting Friday and Saturday. Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Look up! (Epic New Trailer Released)

I've just finished a new trailer for Lifeless Planet. The new trailer unveils a bit of the game story and reveals several new scenes. Check it out at the top of the page.

If you like the music from the trailer, you can get it on bandcamp! This epic score is another composition from the game's official composer, Rich Douglas.

And in case you missed it, a few weeks ago I posted a progress update on Kickstarter:
First the good news: I've officially begun work on level 20, of 20! This is still not alpha, but it's a big milestone. I'm extremely happy with how the end of the game is shaping up and I can't wait to share it with you.
The bad news? I now realize how much more work is left to do. While every level is now either alpha quality or at least is roughed-out, there are a great many details and elements that need to come together to bring all of the parts into a finished, polished game. On the other hand, I'm hopeful that things will start coming together quickly now. The guts are all there, so it's just a matter of pulling everything together and filling in the blanks. Read More>>

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Official Soundtrack Pre-Orders Available Now

Rich Douglas is composing a hauntingly beautiful score to complement the strange and mysterious world of Lifeless Planet. Now you can pre-order the official soundtrack for just $7, or listen to free sample tracks:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Long and Difficult Path to Space

I’ve taken a bit of a turn with production over the last few weeks to concentrate on finishing a demo that I can share with beta-tester backers. I’m pulling together the first 6 levels at a pretty high quality (closer to beta than alpha)... After I finish this demo build I will turn back to finishing the remaining levels and thus complete the alpha. I think realistically it will be sometime in May. Full beta should follow pretty quickly since the first half of the game has become increasingly refined. I’m targeting a July release at this point. I can tell now that even that timeframe will be a challenge, but I believe this is realistic, and I will keep you posted with progress as we get closer.

Read more of this post on the Kickstarter project page...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year from Lifeless Planet!

I can hardly believe it's been over a year since Lifeless Planet was funded. But then this project has been full of "hard to believe" moments—almost all of them very good. At the start of this new year and as I work towards finishing the game, now may be a good time to reflect on some of those surprising milestones:

200% Funded

Yeah, $17,000 isn't much to brag about on Kickstarter these days, but at the time Lifeless Planet was funded, it was in the top 25 of all game projects (and arguably the number one action-adventure)!

I sometimes wonder what would've happened if I had posted a few months later, during the Kickstarter "gold rush." It's possible the final total would've been much greater. Or...the game might have been totally lost in the shuffle. So I'm honestly very happy with my "bird in the hand." Besides, the Kickstarter money allowed me to secure even more money (much more) from investors and a publisher. And any way you cut it, I'm doing what I love and paying the bills. That. Is. Huge.

Signed a Publisher

Kickstarter says posting a project is about more than raising money. I didn't fully understand what they meant until my inbox started filling up. I even got a message from a major movie studio about film rights! Don't first-time indie developers usually have to go begging for attention from these folks? This is just one of the intangible benefits of a successful Kickstarter campaign. I never imagined we'd be flying to London (half-way around the world from Alaska!) to sign a worldwide publishing deal. I was/am overwhelmed to have received so much support--by the hundreds!--from you, my Kickstarter backers (Note: This update was originally posted as an update to my backers on I never expected all the press interviews and inquiries. It's hard to keep up sometimes, but this is a good problem for an indie developer to have.

Missed The Release Goal

I tried very hard to be up-front about the soft nature of the estimated release date. Partly this was because I was new to such a big project and was/am mostly doing it alone. But also I knew the project had potential to grow. If I had met my funding goal, but barely, I could still make a game. But it wouldn't be the Lifeless Planet of today...more on this below.

Featured at Lunarcade and PAX Prime

What an honor for Lifeless Planet to be featured alongside so many great games this year! You wonder why I haven't finished the game yet? Imagine the pressure of being exhibited in the same room as Dear Esther...

And once again the Kickstarter people proved how supportive they are of indies by inviting us to PAX Prime. Man, is Kickstarter cool!

A 60+ Page GDD Comes to Life

Early in this project I worked in earnest to flesh out a detailed game design doc. While it took a lot more time than I expected, it was time well spent. And the GDD is the reason I know this game will get done. Knowing exactly how many levels, puzzles, models, mechanics, scripts, etc. will be in the game from the start has helped ensure scope did not run out of control. I've been more than a little stressed the last few months as the project has stretched into the 11th hour, but I would be out of my mind if not for the GDD. Most of the levels are fleshed out now, and I know what needs to be done on those that remain. Yes, there's been a lot of stress, but there's also been a lot of delight at watching this world come into (virtual) existence.


To tell where the project stands today, it's helpful to look back at where it started. For an example of what I mean, compare these scenes from my first test build (featured in the Kickstarter video) and a recent build of the game (from a level called "The Cliffs"):

I'm trying really hard to push Unity to the max in terms of graphical beauty. I remind myself that I'm only one guy, but at the same time the gamer doesn't care--they just want a spectacular world to explore. So I'm cutting corners and taking shortcuts where it doesn't hurt the overall experience, and putting as much time as I can into fleshing out a beautifully detailed world where it counts.


Frankly, there's a lot left to do, so I still can't give a firm release date yet. Here are the major items that need to be done:
  • Finish building the last 4 (of 20) levels. 
  • Script 12-15 remaining cinematic scenes. 
  • Integrate remaining music into the game and cinematics--much of which has yet to be written.
  • Finish writing/placing remaining log files/docs.
  • Build the core game menu system.
  • Finish adding details to the PDA.
  • Tweak, tweak, tweak the gameplay!
  • Finish texturing a few of the models.
  • Add more details/refinements to some of the levels.
  • Code a save/restore game interface.
  • Release Alpha. Refine the game...
  • Release Beta. Fix the bugs...
  • Release the game!
Of course, this is a broad list and there are many specific individual items--some bigger than others--that need to come together. Predicting a release date is tricky business, but I think Alpha should finally come next month, and that will be a huge step towards release. I will likely share a large portion of the Alpha build with my beta tester backers, and I'll release a new trailer around that time as well. Once we reach Beta I'll be able to start making truly educated predictions of final release.


In closing, I want to say thank you again for your support and your patience over the last year. I won't lie: it has been very hard and I've learned a lot along the way. I like to say my strategy has been to push as hard as I can, hit "the wall," and then take a step back. Sometimes I have to walk away for 15 minutes. Sometimes for half a day (usually sleeping-in after a night of working past midnight). I've tried hard to take at least Sunday's off because I think I work better when I have at least one day a week to relax a little bit. But in general, I figure I've put at least two thousand hours into this project. Two thousand tough, rewarding, educational, brutal, wonderful, exciting hours.

I guess I'm trying to say that I take my commitment to you very seriously. I wish I were further along, but I also want to deliver an experience that meets your expectations. I'm trying very hard to do that, and I can't say enough how much I appreciate your continuing support.