AAB Here. A year or so ago, I wrote that I had been asked to take on some more direct control of the company. It was 256’s turn for a break. I had just had some pat leave before that, so fair is fair.
Anyway, at the time I set some clear goals for 2015. I shared some of those with you at the time. We had to grow income. We had to create a new flagship game. Then promote it, and crosspromote the portfolio. We had to maintain existing games, and improve them if possible. We had to test out new technologies, new approaches, new theories. We had to grow the team. We had to move offices. We had to pay for all of this.
I put a plan into place. It was aggressive but attainable.
Income > Financially we hit our year goals within 5 months. Much of that was due to winning competitive government supports. These are kind of like VC investments, but with different goals than only maxing profit. We gained $135,000 for building World War Mobile and $500,000 for building Star Pirates : Infinity (SPI). We also had others including Export Fund for travel, hiring supports, and more. Players will never see the results of this as directly as a new feature; but new features would not exist without these. We are very grateful for the trust the organisations have shown in us. We will ensure we deliver well. The net result of this is we can pay our bills until at least end of 2016, even with a much expanded team.
World War Mobile > We soft launched World War Mobile in the fall of 2015. The game worked, and hit all the criteria that government asked of us. We could see the game was ok, but we could do better. Plus the world was changing too. We had started the game in 2014, and a new type of Mobile JRPG was hitting the market. So we pulled WWM, and adapted.
Wasteland Heroes : Boss War > We’re really excited about this. This is what WWM evolved into — a Mobile Platformer JRPG. It will soft launch Feb 2nd, 2016 in Canada on Android. It’ll roll out to other locations, and other platforms. At that time, we’ll start sharing game play visuals, and even a form of preregistration. We may even ask some of the existing Mods to pretest in late Jan. From what we can see, WH will be a new flagship game. At least that is the plan. We have the funds to promote it right, although we may make a deal with someone for that as well. It depends on initial response. We’ll know soon enough.
Tentative Rollout Roadmap of Wasteland Heroes: We had committed to a rollout roadmap by Jan 5th. Surprise here it is already. Further Android rollouts are likely Australia, NZ week of Feb 19th, and in March UK, USA, and remainder of majority native English speaking locales. iOS rollout is contingent on a bug free version of the Game on Android — Apple’s 2 week delays for updates mean we cannot advance before we can trust a build 100%. We, again, apologize their problems become your problems. Localisation into other languages for Android will occur in parallel with the iOS dev. All of this, of course, assumes Wasteland Heroes is moderately successful. Times will change if it performs better or worse, or if we get some additional funding.
Star Pirates : Infinity > Production has already started on this Card Collecting Game based in the Star Crash Universe. It will roll out as a Beta in 2016, and continue to develop. It has some really neat game tech that we’re not discussing yet, but it really adds to the fun.
There are other plans for new games, and furthering existing projects, but that depends upon how these games do, and hearing back about additional government supports – we’ll know more in late January.
Existing Games > So what about the existing games? With a growing team led by Christian Latour, most are getting support and some get good love! Read more here: http://www.shgstudios.com/were-growing-again/
The exception is Guts and Glory. GnG was a stepping stone on the path to Wasteland Heroes. While we thank you for your support, GnG simply didn’t take. So GnG will likely be officially sunset soon. That means it will now officially be no longer supported with new development, but still be live for the foreseeable near future. Those who spent in the 3 months leading up to sunset will get some additional benefit from SHG, likely in Wasteland Heroes. We don’t have to do this but we try hard to be moral, and respect those who support us.
New Things > We tried out a lot of new things this year. I think we should ask Tom Brown, our Tech Lead for WH to write that up one day. We also rebranded as SHG Studios. That’s been a good move. Oh and we got some press, and won some awards. Small Business of the Year for Hamilton, and the 1Awards. Both very cool signs of a well run business. And super exciting for us!
Bigger Better Team & Office > Our team has doubled in size this year, including adding Bret Measor as SHG Production Manager. We may stay this level, we may grow, we may shrink. We’ll know in the next month or two. We’re at 16 people for now including contractors (really!). Growing past 20 people changes company culture dramatically; so if we do that, we’d have to reorganise into clearer functional groups. It may be better to have a strong core team, and contractors. We will see. Oh and we moved to twice the space in Feb 2015, then held a kickass party in April 2015. We’ll do another one this year, at about the same time. Bigger and Better. We just got new furniture, a gaming couch, and will look to add decoration and cool stuff in the new year.
What does 2016 hold? Well I’m certainly not the company lead anymore. That ended spring of 2015. But we have a really awesome management team, with efficient cross communication. I’m super happy with those hires, and how it’s come together. The owners/admins are not the day to day leads of everything anymore. We expect that trend to continue as we grow into other spaces. We do need to solidify the Art Director position for new (existing?) games. Maybe a Stats/Live Ops person. Pay our team more, we hope. Always more team members in all spots are welcome if the budget allows.
I think we have clear plans for a lot of things for 2016 already. Having the money to know we’ll pay staff is huge. It does mean we’re committed to some things over others, but that’s cool. These are good and important projects. As for our plans, we’ll know better in Feb after hearing back from the funding applications, and WH’s level of success.
2015 was our best year yet. The company grew in great ways; so did I personally. 2016 looks to be awesome as well.
Happy Saturnalia, Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years and whatever other holidays you may hold dear.
AAB – Colin Ferguson, Dec, 2015