Since you've already answered some of the technical questions, I have a random non-technical one. In some ways, Curious Expedition is extremely similar to Renowned Explorers (~ identical plot?). To be clear, I think there's plenty of room for both games - especially since the gameplay is nothing alike - and I'm glad both exist. But did this happen by accident? I'm curious because there seems to be a trend of various things emerging in pairs (good examples are Hollywood movies, e.g. the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact coming out with similar plots within months of each other).
I won't deny that it was initially a shock to see a game that superficially seemed so close to Curious Expedition, but as you said there is more than enough space for both games and playing them they are definetely quite different from each other.
Over the years we met the folks from Abbey Games a couple of times and developed a friendship. Last year we decided to poke fun at the whole situation and did a joint bundle on Steam. The bundle has ended at the moment, but the page is still online:
To this day being able to collaborate with them and turning this potentially sour situation into something fun was one of the best experiences I had as an indie developer.
I ended up with both games in my collection separately, and was pretty shocked at the plot. What are the chances of that happening randomly!? I thought there may be a common thread I missed, but this is far more hilarious.
I liked it because it doesn't try to hold your hand.
Another theory is a lower budget production produces a similar movie to kind of 'draft' the marketing success of the main movie. These are called mockbusters
It has a demo running in the browser as well. I thought it was quite impressive back then (it's been playable for a while now).
Definitely cool to see "professional" HTML5 based games finally picking up, though it's been a few years at least since they were prophesied.
Oh also of course there's RuneScape having had a WebGL version for ages now.
Edit: For the sake of completeness, here's the Steam URL for OPs game - though you should consider buying it via GOG or directly from them instead.
Posting a video because the game requires 4 game controllers and is 4 player only
I'm continually impressed with Rezoner's games like wilds.io and wanderers.io, Ansimuz's Elliot Quest was a great game, Play Keepout (http://www.playkeepout.com/) is a fun dungeon crawler from the team that make the multiplayer Browser Quest game for Mozilla, and Jandisoft's upcoming MMO https://www.madworldmmo.com/ looks pretty amazing (it's built on Pixi.js I believe)
The technology is becoming less and less a factor, and the ideas and execution more and more so. Good times!
There are lots of interesting web games in the free-to-play market, but I'm excited to see which web game actually manages to really break out into the premium market. We're using a humble bundle widget to sell our web based version at the moment.
It is very hard (or nearly impossible) to make up for the increased visibility that you get when you launch on Steam. Although that one is getting harder by the minute as well of course.
Thanks for the mention in your book by the way!
If you thought there weren't HTML5 games on Steam, it's probably because they're so good nobody notices.
We made a game that nobody wanted to buy
Everything else is trying to convince the reader that the above wasn't a failure on their part. There is an ever growing saturation of games (and music and books and indeed all consumable entertainment) - and success is down to a combination of making something that people want to play and making sure that those people know about it. One of the two things alone is insufficient tbh.
How does it compare to Phaser?
I always had the feeling Construct was more of a full-fledged thing like Unity and Phaser was more of a framework, but on the parts they both try to solve, what do they do differently?
Construct 3 is browser-based so you can give it a spin here: https://editor.construct.net/
Since it's HTML 5 based, you can play here as well:
Could you at least give some of those details here in the comments?
It uses our own HTML5 engine. Rendering is based on a simple canvas tag and 2d context draw calls. The code is written in CoffeeScript. The server runs on node. I just used SublimeText as text editor. We ship the game on Steam via Electron and the greenworks Steam integration.
It has sold over 130,000 units so far. The regular price is around 15$ on Steam. Generally we're obviously very happy with the success considering that 95% of the content was created by two persons.
The project started as a hobby project in 2012, so there are some technical decisions which I would approach differently now: - Using modern JS instead of Coffeescript - Using WebGL instead of Canvas
For our next project we're considering switching to Unity since 90% of our distribution happens through Steam and 3d engines like Unity and Unreal are imho way more mature than HTML5 engines at the moment. The biggest obstacle for us in using HTML5 has been the player perception of web games being for free games that are built around grinding.
I'm curious to know what kind of promotion efforts you had to do to reach 130k units? Was it just word-of-mouth and good reviews that took you there, or did you spend money on advertising, PR, etc.?
By the way, I completely agree with using WebGL instead of canvas. We created our first HTML5 game back in 2012 (called BrowserQuest), and achieving good performance with canvas was a big challenge at the time. We would definitely choose WebGL over canvas today even for a 2D game.
I linked to it from another comment already, but we're also big believers in twitter and did a talk about it:
long story short, webgl had memory issue on low end androids and was unplayable on chrome/iphone because it lacked acceleration. this was last year, thing might have changed now.
In case you have not: It lets you build games for all the major platforms and gives you access to the latest features of C# (if you're interested in using C# that is). Also the whole thing with IDE and all is under 30MB unless you download it off Steam (which includes examples) then it's about 200MB. Engine and tooling are fully open source (MIT) unlike Unity.
Good to know your game has been so successful btw! I wish you and your team future success in your other games!
Having worked for some years now on a game that uses tech that relatively few people are using to create games like we do and knowing the pain of dealing with very specific issues that at times literally nobody else in the world is dealing with, I would probably prefer to stick with the huge developer/install base that Unity has to over at the moment though.
Two years ago we started a indie developer co-working space here in Berlin and about 95% of the people here are using Unity (http://saftladen.berlin). That's a huge advantage that Godot (or any other new engine) will have to overcome.
Care to elaborate about the marketing side? How did you manage to get this amount of sales? Did you get any support from Steam on that front? Thanks!
Steam helped us through their huge market share but the general concensus is that with the increased amount of games being released on Steam it is getting harder and harder to make a living there as an average game developer. When we pressed the big publish button on steam, we checked the new releases page immediately after and even in those 2-3 seconds there had passed enough time for our game only to be the second newest game.
The thing that helped us the most was being early and continously on social media. Here's an presentation that we did on the topic. I think it still holds up.
This might not have been possible with CoffeeScript, but for your next project have you considered targeting both the web platform as well as native using a language that supports both? 
As far as I can see the main benefit of targeting HTML5 is the accessibility, especially for this demo. It would however be nice to get a native version for Steam (and possibly mobile platforms if those are on the horizon too). I think using Unity will get rid of this benefit as it will require the Unity plugin to be installed to be playable.
1 - A good example of a game that does this is Reel Valley, a game built to be played primarily on Facebook's game platform in the browser, but also targeting Android and iOS. Its code base is shared across all platforms with only small platform-specific bits needed for each. Definitely worth checking out: https://yglukhov.github.io/Making-ReelValley-Overview/.
As far as I'm aware the Unity plugin is dead and hasn't been pretty much disfunctional for over a year now. The new approach for Unity is to export directly to HTML5, which already works somewhat nicely. Of course you have to pay with big package sizes since you're bundling the engine with your game. That's the biggest advantage of using a custom HTML5 engine which is custom tailored for one game.
We've been selling the web version before the steam version, but after putting it on steam our revenue exploded 50 times and we put the web build a bit on the back burner. We're coming back to it now and will experiment with some ideas benefiting of the immediacy of the web tech. Even thinking about doing a MMO-ish web-only spin off for it.
Will check out the ReelVally blog post. Very interesting.
The scroll hooks work in Firefox/osx, the keyboard zoom still does not, and it's also pretty slow there.
It probably doesn't help that I'm on an 8 years old iGP, performances-wise, and I don't know that you have any ability to detect that sort of crap.
More info: 8GB of RAM, motherboard graphics (no GPU), Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU G1610 @ 2.60GHz.
For reference, I'm on a late-2015 laptop (XPS 13 9350) with integrated graphics, but the newer i3 gives me perfectly fine performance.
I really liked the aesthetic of the game, so I took a screenshot and wanted to share it with my SO over Messenger. When I opened messenger.com the game made the rest of my system start to lag significantly as Firefox started to peg my CPU. I guess handling this game and messenger.com at the same time is too much even for a fairly new MacBook Pro. It's a bit ridiculous that this is the case.
Perhaps the benefit of making the demo as accessible as possible outweighs this downside.
I don't know if it's the MacBook Pro hardware, or the HTML5 bloat, but this shouldn't happen in 2018.
This site is blocked due to a security threat.
demo.curious-expedition.com This site is blocked due to a security threat that was discovered by the Cisco Umbrella security researchers.
* Here's a list of updates as well: http://curious-expedition.com/updates
What can you tell us about The Curious Case?
- They have very carefully hand-crafted scenarios which are very expensive to create and therefore rarely allows the player to go off the tracks or to completely fail. Some of them don't even allow you to leave a crime scene until you've literally found all the relevant evidence. These games do a lot of hand-holding and player direction and rarely feel satisfying when you find the killer.
- You're forced to try to mind read the game designers intention and world view instead of really taking in the game scenario itself since the game world is primarily explained qualitatively instead of quantitively. For example in LA Noir I'm asked to judge whether a person is lying or not, but what I'm actually doing is judging a actors interpretation of somebody lying or speaking the truth.
- They rarely explore strategic gameplay / resource management aspects or if they do they go so far in that direction that they don't feel like a detective game anymore.
I'm not saying that we'll be able to fix all these problems, but these problems are at least what drove us to think that there would be some interesting game design work in this space. It turns out to be quite hard, but I'm excited about our current prototype. Will take some more time before you'll be able to play it though unfortunately.
Oh.. and it is set in Berlin of the 1920s, which is really a quite fascinating and relatively unexplored setting.
The GUMESHOE Rpg System would says this was a feature not a bug.
Failing to solve a case because I couldn't piece all the evidence together is an acceptable fail. Failing to solve a case because I couldn't even find the evidence is infuriating.
Personally I dislike detective games forcing me through a linear sequence of rooms and not letting me continue until I've done everything that the game wants me to do. That's not what the fantasy of being a detective is about for me.
Thanks for pointing out the Gumshoe System. I read about it before, but I'll make sure to check it out again. I'm a big fan of Robin Laws previous works Feng Shui and Over The Edge.
Justin Alexander also has nice set of articles about node based (role playing) game design, which is like an extended version of Three Clue Rule.
The problem is that PCs can miss clues through not fault of their own. The three clue rule simply throws in enough clues that the PCs would have to be very unlucky to miss them all. Gumshoe ensures that the PCs never miss vital clues because Gumshoe contends that finding clues isn't the fun part of an investigation - interpreting them is the fun bit.
As a GM it's whole approach to how to structure RPG investigations was like a hammer blow of clarity. As I read it I was mentally going "Of Course, it's so obvious" pretty much every other sentence.
Anyone searching for startup ideas, packaging HTML5 as native binary apps remains a pain point. Mostly in making sure things like full screen layout, mouse pointer lock, networking, etc all work as intended on hosts. Apart from simultaneous testing on multiple machines, emulating via virtual box isn't sufficient for game performance. Electron and NW could vastly be simplified for humans ;)
Also, I have a standalone build prepared for https://holypangolin.itch.io/karambola - waiting for some spare time in-between working on our bigger project to put some finishing touches to it before uploading to Steam.
The game play is pretty smooth, and I am impressed with the performance and interaction.
The sound work is great, and is a large part of what makes this game feel engaging. I played some of the tutorial, but the chewing smacking sound when eating food was a deal breaker for me, had to shut it off.
curious.j.layershift.co.uk/demo is blocked because it is currently categorized as: Suspicious
I'm trying the tutorial, but the mousewheel doesn't zoom, but scrolls up and down on the map.
The +/- keys also don't zoom.
I'm running on a macbook pro, in chrome.
UPDATE: +/- keys working now.
Seems like a cool game. I will try it as soon as I find some time! Good Luck
On Chrome 66.0 the zooming doesn't work so the tutorial is blocked.
I ended up refunding your game because it just failed to launch on my particular (bare-bones) configuration. shame, I would've loved to play it!
Yep, this is the direction we are heading people! Buckle your seat belts!
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Another issue is that the game is hogging the CPU at all times, which is terrible for battery life.
Edit: To clarify, on a 16:9 the playable area is far from being vertically centered.