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A1-X1000
Toronto, Canada

by A1-X1000 posted Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:18 am

From (Simone Bevilacqua aka saimo) ovr at amigans.net:

Since the middle of May I've been working on a new game called Blastaway. It isn't finished yet, but it's playable.
Ideally, I would have loved to make it for AGA Amigas, but, instead, the target platform I chose was... Windows (!) Last week, I thought I could make it available for AmigaOS 4, too. So, I ported it and on friday I made an AmigaOS 4 build publicly available.
More about the platforms later: let's look at the game itself, first.

Blastaway will be (hopefully) a highly playable and entertaining arena shooter, gameplay-wise heavily and shamelessly inspired to Wizard of Wor and graphically somewhat inspired to The Chaos Engine.
Looking at the latest video preview will let you immediately understand what it is all about.

You can try the game yourself anytime by downloading the latest build from the game's page (it will redirect you to itch.io, as itch.io is where I'm currently keeping all of my games).

At the moment there is only 1 stage (i.e. world) with its 10 arenas (i.e. levels), but the final game is planned to have 5 stages, for a total of 50 arenas. I have a few more points in my to-do list, but the core of the game is complete.
I'm releasing new builds frequently, so, if you're interested, keep an eye on the page and/or follow the public devlog on the same page or Twitter, LinkedIn, Patreon, TIGForums, YouTube. Whenever possible, I'll provide updates also in this thread.

Now back to the target platforms. There's a long story behind, and I'm going to be totally open about it. I'll try to keep it as short as possible, but still it will unavoidably turn out lengthy. Please bear with me.

I wrote that, ideally, I'd be making Blastaway for AGA Amigas: in fact, that would be the most self-rewarding experience, as I just adore programming the oldschool systems of my childhood/youth - the Amiga and the C64 - and doing that the oldschool way (i.e. direct hardware hitting). Moreover, I've developed a lot on the Amiga, but I have released too little, so my urge to make games for it is boosted further by the motivation of making more stuff of mine available for that machine. And then, I have a number of projects/engines waiting to be used, and I'm really afraid that I'll never have time to do anything with them. Those are the reasons that, less than two years ago, pushed me to return, after years of work on PC (in a general sense) and C64 games, to the classic Amiga and make SkillGrid.

Thus, the fact that I chose to target Windows is quite surprising, isn't it? And there's also another surprising aspect: while my other games are designed to bring innovation, be unlike anything else, and be based on rich and unusual mechanics (that often require massive and detailed manuals), Blastaway is familiar and straightforward, and I'm trying hard to refrain from adding the many gameplay features that my thirst for originality and depth suggests.
The reason for such a sharp (and tormented) turn is simple: I needed to reach the widest audience possible. I've been making anti-mainstream games, some of which for niche platforms (you know which), for a long time, but now I'm in a situation where I really needed to reach lots of people. So, I decided to go more mainstream. Sure, I'd better make real mainstream games, but my heart isn't there and I can't program a single line of code without heart (which is also why I'm not a developer by trade); also, I'm good only at making oldschool games, so Blastaway just had to be retro. Of course, this automatically means reducing the potential audience, but - hey - there are limits to what I can do. Also, the same limits are what rule out mobile platforms and consoles: I just can't find the words to explain how sick I feel at having to learn other platforms/systems/languages; I'm no geek, I'm not interested in technology per se, and I just feel like going crazy when working on systems which are alien to me (especially for projects that aren't my own). It's already a miracle I managed to build my own little, isolated world on top of C and SDL back in 2004, which is what allowed me to make games for PC like BOH, Huenison, KOG - and now Blastaway.

So, why do I need to reach a wide audience?
In the middle of 2016 I quit my job and returned to Italy to offer support to my seriously ill father and my mother. Returning to such country (and, in particular, the south part of it) automatically meant one thing: being unemployed or enslaved. I've had interviews, went through job selections, worked briefly for a certain company... all indecent, unspeakable experiences. Seeing how there's one thing that, even in this place, seemed to flourish, I decided to become a professional pizza maker. I've followed an expensive course and toured around making pizzas for about a year and a half; unfortunately, even this occupation fell in the category "slavery", so I quit. I've also written a book and looked for a publisher, but since in this rotten country publishers ask you money to publish a book (they run their companies with the authors' capital... now that's a smart business model!), I could only find a very small publisher willing to publish the book without getting paid: the book was indeed published, but the fact that the publisher was so small also meant that the book remained unknown (on top of that, I didn't get support from the people who had told me they'd help me with promoting the book). Basically, for about three years my only income was the little money that comes from my games, which is just pocket money (to give you an idea, just think that the all-time gross revenue of all my games on itch.io is a miserable $1389.84 USD). Basically, the only thing that allowed me to go on was that I was again at my parents' place: they gave me food to eat and a bed to sleep in - and, let's not forget it, the electricity to make my games.
(At least, my unemployment had the positive side of leaving me plenty of time to work on my projects: in fact, I have updated and re-released all my games, published the special physical editions of BOH and Huenison, had the heavily-expanded version of MAH published on cartridge and floppy, and even created SkillGrid from the scratch and have it published on CD and floppies.)
On May 5th a radical change happened: my father died (after years of ever-increasing physical/psychological/spiritual pain). Therefore, I could finally leave (for the third time) this devastated country and build a present and a future for myself somewhere else. Well, not really: I just couldn't leave my mother alone all of a sudden! I decided to stay a few more months so that she could deal with the loss more easily, and also to assist her with the burden of the bureaucratic matters. But then another thought came: I'd be far away just when she would need me most, that is, during the last part of her life. That will be hard for both, although she can't wait to see me begin to live again and will support any decision I'll take. I told myself: OK, for once, don't make the game you want, but the game that people want! As unlikely as it can be - who knows - maybe this time around you'll achieve a significant commercial success and be able to stay. Well aware of how nearly impossible that is, especially with an indie game of my kind, still I had a few months to give it a try: so, I (sadly) put aside my classic Amiga and C64 projects and started Blastaway. And not just that: to obtain the maximum visibility, as mentioned already, I also started keeping a frequently updated devlog, releasing pictures, videos, and builds, using the variety of channels listed above (plus Facebook, which I have recently gotten rid of due to personal data abuse). All that promotional activity requires a lot of work, which I honestly don't enjoy and I'd rather dedicate to the game itself. Finally, I never said that the game would be commercial: I haven't taken a decision yet, and actually one of the options was - and still is - that the game remains free, to really reach as many gamers as possible (in that case, what I'd earn is publicity, sales of my other games, and a chance to be noticed by some important player in the game industry).

Did I succeed? The answer is a big fat NO. In 64 days, Blastway had only 334 views and 60 downloads (and that's including multiple visits and downloads by who is somewhat interested in the game). There's only one word for this: failure.
I know it's going to be unpleasant to hear, but since I'm being 100% honest, I can't hide that such failure is the reason why the idea of making an AmigaOS 4 port came: I thought that I could get support from a small community that knows me already and that wants new software. By "support" I don't mean "sales", because, as said, the game might stay free and because the community is too small anyway, but the community might help a lot with spreading the word and attracting people outside of it, and also provide ideas regarding how to promote the game and reach others in the rest of the world.
That said, of course, giving the AmigaOS 4 community another game is an additional pleasure for me.

In conclusion: hey, I'm making a new game for AmigaOS 4, are you interested in it and would you help me let the rest of the world know about it? Please let me hear your comments and ideas, both about the game and about how to promote it, and let other people know!
from saimo over at amigans.net:

Of course, you don't have to give support, nor must you necessarily like the game. If the game fails to generate enough interest in the community, I'll just acknowledge it and drop the AmigaOS 4 version.
Anyway, I'll do my best to get the game finished: it's something I personally and strongly want, even if nobody ever played it. I don't know how long it will take, and I'm afraid there will be soon major delays as I'll start looking for a job abroad at the beginning of August, but I really want to get it done (just like it happened to Huenison: I had started it when I was in Italy, then moved abroad three months later, and eventually finished and released it).

Finally, a few notes:
* I chose AmigaOS 4 because, quite simply, that's the only NG system I've ever had;
* please don't ask for ports to other systems: I can't take that burden (supporting two platforms is already demanding, and with BOH I've learned that increasing the number of supported systems beyond two is insane);
* please don't offer to make ports for other systems: also that, for several reasons, takes time and energies;
* please don't be offended if I don't answer to requests/observations about ports: I can't afford to get involved in conversations about something that isn't going to happen anyway;
* if you have a non-IT job for me in a Nordic country, please let me know!
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to all fellow my fellow amigans please consider donating anything you can afford to Simone's Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/RETREAM/overview
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