Puppygames’ Fate Worse Than Closing: Basingstoke

By Alice O'Connor on August 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

I've never been to Basingstoke myself.

I broadly assume that developers who make games I like are doing well financially, because my taste is impeccable and surely everyone shares it. Puppygames make things like Droid Assault and top tower defence Revenge of the Titans, so how could they possibly be in trouble? Oh but they are, they are. Facing running out of money before they could possibly finish their current game, Battledroid, they’re throwing everything into one final short game. Puppy are now working on a roguelike-like stealth game named after its setting that’ll fill your heart with dread: Basingstoke.

Puppygames explained Basingstoke (the game) in their blog post breaking the bad news:

Under cover of darkness you’ve got to do what any normal person would do when in Basingstoke – which is try to get as far away from Basingstoke as you can. It’s a brutal arcade roguelike game with no hitpoints, only instant death. Your main tools are sneaking, distraction, surprise, and running away. There should be a bit of crafting as well to improvise gadgets to help you. Guns are a last resort and there won’t be many of them about.

But why Basingstoke? Well, in the Titans games, the Hampshire town was the first invaded by alien forces. And it’s one of those anywhere places that we’re supposedly okay to rag on. You know, like Loughborough (cheers and jeers rise from old PC Gamer readers necking real ale at the bar).

Puppy only had four months of funds left when they made the decision at the start of May. “Due to several decisions of dubious merit last year we’ve ended up wasting most of our cash on things that never flew,” they said. Oh dear. Free-to-play massively multiplayer war game Battledroid was still looking at another year of development, so they threw everything at a smaller game they might get to finish. Trying to Kickstart Battledroid would take too long and be unlikely to succeed, Puppy say. They also briefly worked on prototyping a pretty-looking arcade dogfighter named Skies of Titan.

Puppygames plan to release Basingstoke in October, a bit after they run out of money.

Perhaps it's nice!

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171 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    I can’t tell if the article is a joke or not :D

  2. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    Puppygames going under would be very sad indeed. I enjoyed all of their games I played and so have most people I know. Surely the sales numbers can’t be that bad?

    • Premium User Badge

      gnodab says:

      That’s what I thought. But then I read the words “Free-to-play mmassively multiplayer war game” and it all made sense….
      Why would you do that puppy games, why?

      • eggy toast says:

        If you click through to the page about the free to play wargame MMO its also asynchronous with predetermined outcomes based on unit selection and terrain (which honestly makes me wonder why bother rendering out thousands of discreet units, then?) and best of all in the comments, they say “We’re going to allow people who are money rich and time poor to at least get their fill of interesting stuff by paying for it.” and detail a $20 “full game” version that only unlocks stuff for single player.

        To me, it sounds like a horrible plan at every stage.

        • Premium User Badge

          princec says:

          You’d love the game, really you would :) It’s awesome. I can’t wait to play it myself. If only some bugger would make it for me.

          More information here about it: http://www.puppygames.net/blog/?p=1480#more-1480

          (You can’t download it any more coz it’s on Steam only now – sorry)

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Yeah. I was going to post, but everyone beat me to it.
          If they failed financially after making a gem of a game (most of their other games!) then we would all be saddened and throwing cash at the screen.

          But if they failed by jumping on a bandwagon pulled by a long dead and over saturated horse called “free to play (with mobile?)” then we feel the same sadness, but know it’s not wise to back such decisions with more cash…

  3. AngoraFish says:

    Puppygames burnt all goodwill I had for them when they offered a “discounted” preorder price on Revenge of the Titans, when in fact the game appeared in a Humble Bundle for virtually nix on day one. One of the devs then behaved like a dick, insulting anyone in the forums who complained about being baited to buy the game early for a discount when in fact anyone who waited for day one picked it up for significantly less. I’d like to think that their current financial problems had at least a tiny bit to do with pissing off a few of their biggest fans. Suffice to say, I’ll not be preordering anything from them again. If they go under as a result, so be it.

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      Fans like you remind me of why poor old Phil Fish had a nervous breakdown.

      • LionsPhil says:

        You seem determined to demonstrate his point.

      • eggy toast says:

        Indie developers need to have the game buying community on their side, being antagonistic to customers is more than bad business, its stupid.

        • wu wei says:

          No, fuck that. If gamers want to be treated politely, they can act politely. If they want to be whiny pissants, then they should rightly be told to go fuck themselves.

          • Koozer says:

            The problem with that reasoning is that one party is asking the other to give them cash. If you want people to give you stuff, it helps to be nice to them.

          • Bull0 says:

            Making stuff they are prepared to pay cash for is the traditional method.

      • lordcooper says:

        I say this with the best of intentions. You’re really not helping yourself here.

        • Premium User Badge

          princec says:

          Indeed. Random troll on the internet spouts unsubstantiated self-entitled rubbish about developer. Developer notices and refrains from insulting OP back or even bothering to argue. Internet takes great offence at developer. Seen it a hundred times. Yet still people want to be games developers with this sort of crap going on.

          • eggy toast says:

            Revenge of the Titans was undeniably in Humble Indie Bundle 2 in the “pay what you want” tier, this is not debatable, and according to wikipedia that happened months before the game launched officially on Steam. If you think that’s not a middle finger to people who bought a pre-order, then I guess good luck with your next job.

          • Premium User Badge

            princec says:

            As eggy toast is absolutely determined to have an argument on the internet today, I will endeavour to give him one so he doesn’t go bothering anyone else.

            We never sold pre-orders for our game. We sold the beta of the game to fans who were perfectly allowed to wait until it was finished, or wait until it came out on Steam, or wait until it came out in a sale on Steam, or wait until they were in a nursing home. This is how things are sold. You are not entitled to some sort of refund if it subsequently comes out cheaper somewhere else later. I am not entitled to a refund if it comes out cheaper somewhere else later. I buy games too. Sometimes they go on sale after I buy them. I don’t lose any sleep crying over the few dollars I didn’t give to the developer. (Especially as I know that most of them, like ourselves, are broke as fuck).

            As I recall the OP of this thread was an utter twat on our forums complaining he’d bought the game the day before Humble was announced and he was pissed off that he could have bought it for 1 cent.

            Well, fuck him.

            Fuck him royally.

            He can take his 1 cent and shove it up his arse. And all future money he ever wants to give us, and all the money that his friends and friends of friends might have ever wanted to give us for our games. We do not want customers like him. We want people who actually like to play our games and think they’re worth owning. Not self-entitled spoiled brats who think the world owes them entertainment for nothing.

            So long as we find enough people who like what we do – and who understand that it’s a two-way relationship – we’re good. As for the rest of ‘em… good riddance. And if that’s why we’re broke, so be it.

            [edit: just to be clear - I'm referring not to eggy toast but to the OP of the thread]

          • prian says:

            Goodness. For a brief moment I was intrigued by this coming game and then I read the posts by “princec” who claims to be from puppy games – with a significant amount of evidence.

            princec, I will never -ever- buy a product from puppy games. You have proven to me that you do not respect your fans, potential customers, and curious innocents. Further, your posts also prove that you have no idea on what you are doing. You don’t just make games – you make bad decisions.

            You post where you shouldn’t. Seriously, there was no reason, at all, to post like an Internet trolls and then to start insulting someone who paid you money to be a customer. They had and have every right to be disappointed with what you did and with the way that you react so defensively about it you know that they are right.

            There is no acceptable excuse or reason for you to act like you are. None.

            Never will I support your company. Further, if I ever learn that you’ve moved on to another company I will not support that company either. No way. You don’t even merit a second chance. You were / are ridiculously rude and obnoxious.

            If anything your posts reveal why your company is running out of money and rightfully so. If you burn the goodwill of your customers and potential customers then you will not be in business.

            Well done – you’ve managed to lose out on yet another potential customer. “Bad day” indeed.

          • Premium User Badge

            princec says:

            Absolutely, and you’re entirely welcome to do so.

          • Brinx says:

            This REALLY makes me want to buy your games.

            : (

          • Axyl says:

            +1 to Fuck that Guy.

            I’ve bought everything released by Puppy Games, and a few of them I’ve bought a 2nd time as well (on Steam).

            Love your work, man. :)

          • shaydeeadi says:

            I got revenge of the titans full price and then a week later it was in a humble bundle. I actually shrugged my shoulders and went about my day. Some people take the most pathetic shit as a personal slight and run with it until they are blue in the face. You really shouldn’t give them the satisfaction of a response as you will rouse the high and mighty warriors.

          • battles_atlas says:

            My sympathies are with whoever else makes up Puppygame studios. With community engagement like this I’m surprised you lasted this long. For someone talking about a “a two-way relationship” all I’m hearing from princec is “me me me”. Sounds like both parties have legit arguments regarding what has become the increasingly grey area of early release games. So princec’s level of self-righteousness is absurd. And entirely counter-productive.

          • Bull0 says:

            Your Mileage May Vary, I guess. Personally I think he makes a pretty compelling argument. If you’re going to take it personally when you pay more for something than someone else does later, don’t be an early adopter, there’s no shame in it. Throwing your toys out of the pram is pretty shameful behaviour in an adult, though.

          • Frank says:

            Princec makes a good case and I’m not so blinded by swear words that I can’t see that.

            On the other hand, he’d do himself more of a favor by keeping it brief and swearless in this thread…

          • earlgrey says:

            Just going to leave this here:

            http://www.puppygames.net/blog/?p=1574

          • qrter says:

            Wow. I was never a fan of RPS’ Angry Internet Man meme, but there we seem to have one.

            And I understand the point that is made – we buy a game for next to nothing, and then expect full service (well, I don’t, but I expect everyone says that), and it’s not feasible.

            But I’m not sure that slathering it in a red hot hate-sauce is the best way to communicate these things.

          • Armitage says:

            Totally agree with you Princec. Paying different prices for a game is nothing to boycott or bitch about. But you are not doing yourself any favors by feeding the trolls. Your post about the dark side of Indie PR is exactly right. The mob is censoring you. It sucks but it’s true. If you want to sell a game, then you need to be a good salesman. Engaging in public arguments with your customers is not being a good salesman.

            The trolls on the internet will always say things designed to incite anger in you and your fans. This is why brands have dedicated PR teams. Anyone not dedicated to that roll rightfully wants tell these people to fuck off. TotalBiscuit has a video about how much it sucks interacting with the internet and how ill suited he is for that. Please don’t be the next Phil Fish. Focus on continuing to make great games and you will earn our money. Good Luck!

          • tormos says:

            personally I’m now committed to buying every puppy game at full price as a result of this much needed frankness on the part of indie devs

        • Borsook says:

          I find what princec said to very reasonable, there is this logic, that a company should appologise even if the customer is at fault, it is very refreshing to see some honesty. I like Puppy games even more now.

          • zentropy says:

            Honestly so annoying this notion that if you’ve purchased something, your opinion MATTERS SO MUCH.

            I blame Kickstarter.

            “I supported this game (read: payed 1$) and now you must conform to my opinions!”

      • vash47 says:

        Oh, so you believe all the Fish bullshit. Wow.

      • Distec says:

        Can’t think of too many smaller studios that can afford the luxurious position of telling their customers to fuck themselves. I’m sure it feels nice and perhaps can be deserved, but good luck with that as a business strategy.

        Phil Fish helped make his own bed.

        • Premium User Badge

          Martel says:

          Especially in an article about how they’re going under……

        • Lusketrollet says:

          I wish more developers had the balls to do so.

          Some people just fucking deserve it.

          • Distec says:

            To be honest, I can entirely understand people being pissed if a game they purchased was listing for pennies the day after afterwards.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Mr Derek Smart fan, eh?

            Some developers deserve their fate too. As the raging PR failure above says, “and if that’s why we’re broke, so be it”.

          • Borsook says:

            Well said! Recently I can’t find a discussion about a game without somebody being an entitled cry baby and saying things like “I’ve been waiting 2 days for a patch I will never buy anything from them again” or “they went on sale and I bought it yesterday I will never buy from them again”. This attitude is getting old fast.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Sadly this thread is consistent with my expectations.

    • Bull0 says:

      You mean to tell me that you paid a price that you were happy with for a product, and then at a later stage some other people paid a lower price? You have been wronged sir, wronged! I will not rest until this outrage is appropriately recompensed!

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I don’t understand though, were they promised a “discount” or not?

        Though it’s sad that the lie of “50% off” has become the norm, as we all know they up the price 100% the day before… it’s only because value is subjective, not objective, that most industries can get away with it (not implying this one does, but a lot of others do. In fact, this one tends to set prices regular and discount occasional, so seems above board).

      • Baines says:

        It is pretty bad form to take money for a game, beta or not, and then effectively launch it at a previously unannounced lower price.

        Amanita Design did it with Botanicula. They let GOG and GamersGate take $9 pre-orders for the game, and then had the game in a Humble Bundle on release day. (It was apparently $5 to get a Steam key, but you could get the DRM-free version for one cent.) People got upset. Amanita Design apologized, and gave some bonuses to those that pre-ordered.

        SNK had a brief issue with the Steam version of KOF XIII. They had been taking pre-orders at a discount for about a month. Out of nowhere, the discount suddenly increased, lowering the pre-order price. People who had already pre-ordered at the original price where understandably upset. Some were trying to get Valve to refund the first pre-order, so that they could then re-pre-order at the cheaper price. Some guessed that SNK (which was yet again in money trouble) wasn’t happy with pre-order numbers and had lowered the price to try to get more pre-orders. The price was reverted within a few hours, with SNK apologizing and saying that the second discount was a mistake on Valve/Steam’s part.

        Even if you want to support a company, these kinds of pricing choices can feel like a rip-off. Situations like this aren’t like sales months or years after release. It can feel a bit like an attempt to gouge people that already want to support you, because it is the people who want to support you who are going to buy your game at release without waiting.

        (On a side note, the difference between how princec handled complaint here and how the above two companies handled complaints at the time is pretty stark.)

        • Bull0 says:

          I just don’t think my brain is compatible with this, because my purchasing decisions don’t work that way – I just look at the thing, and whether or not I’m happy paying the price on offer for it, and I do that. Otherwise, you have to take the silly Steam preorder prices seriously (Oh! That game is £34.99 if I preorder it instead of £39.99! BARGAIN!) and you get butthurt when other people pay less for something than you did, because presumably you weren’t actually happy paying what you paid for it, you just thought that was as cheap as you were going to get it.

          Seriously, dump all those considerations, just look at the thing and if it looks worth the money, buy it, if it doesn’t, don’t. You’ll be much happier for it. Not necessarily aimed at you, just a general suggestion.

          (On a similar side note, why are we so obsessed with how good or bad at PR game developers are? Do we decide which movie to see based on the director’s politics, and recent tweets? Is silence better than engagement?)

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            Yeah. I wonder if this person goes back in the afternoon and yells at the fruit seller when he starts charging half for the strawberries they bought in the morning.

          • Baines says:

            LennyLeonardo, these situations are more like going to buy strawberries in the morning, paying your money, and then seeing that the person standing next to you was charged half as much at the same stall. Or telling a vendor you’d like to pick up some strawberries in the morning, being told thanks for being a loyal customer, showing up in the morning to get your fresh strawberries, and hearing the vendor shout out “Fresh strawberries are half price for new customers and random walkers-by! Quarter price if you also don’t happen to like strawberries!”

            Bull0, PR is how things are sold. Particularly smaller struggling developers need to care about PR, because they don’t have the cushion or market power of big companies like EA. I’m not saying silence is better, but showing some degree of sense and respect is good even in the face of anger.

            As for non-game developer PR, ask Mel Gibson how well things went after his anti-Semetic rant was publicized. Orson Scott Card’s political views turned some against watching a movie based on one of his books. There are various cases. The thing is people tend to forgive over time, at least if they are getting something out of the deal (like good games or entertaining films or whatever). Further, the big name non-game examples are big name examples, similar to EA. Names so big that it would take sustained bad PR to cause long term damage.

            A small game publisher can’t take the hit of bad PR the way EA can, though. (As for Phil Fish, who princec name-dropped, people forgive over time particularly if they get something out of it. If Fish had continued releasing critically acclaimed games, and perhaps did so at a faster pace, people would have been more accepting of Fish’s attitudes. (Which is itself kind of negative about people in general, but that’s how people are.))

    • Damien Stark says:

      To summarize what we (should) have learned from this whole thread:
      1. Gamers: Stop pre-purchasing games. STAHP.

      2. Developers: Your financial ability to complete a game should not be dependent on people pre-purchasing it. This includes Alpha/Beta/”Early Access” purchases. When you charge people money for your product, then fail to give them that product because not enough of them paid for it in advance, they have every right to rage at you forever. No, the disclaimers about how they’re paying for it in the state it’s currently in do not remove this rule.

      3. Gamers: Sales are a thing, do not get upset that someone else purchased something later at a lower price than you did. If you are emotionally attached to paying the lowest price for something, just keep waiting.

      4. Developers: If your ability to remain in business is dependent on gamers choosing to purchase your product, maybe you shouldn’t wade into comments threads and call them entitled assholes. Many of them absolutely are entitled assholes. You are not wrong. But you chose to hang your financial security on the willing purchases of said entitled assholes, so maybe it’s in your best interest to stop stepping on the ant hill.

  4. FFabian says:

    love me those puppy games. Bought all of their games … some of them multiple times (droid assault as a single purchase, then in the old Ultrabundle they had on their website, then in the humblebundle).

  5. Tei says:

    “Due to several decisions of dubious merit last year we’ve ended up wasting most of our cash on things that never flew,”

    Sounds like normal business to me. Nobody knows what is going to work or not. It happends with normal business, its normal for software projects and even more for something creative like creating games.

    The risks of creating software are too high. I can’t even start to imagine what are the risk of creating videgames.

  6. Curratum says:

    “We ran out of funds, creating lo-fi asset 2D games, so we decided to make a 3D game with more complex assets to raise some money.” I hear ya, Puppygames, I hear ya. Revenge of the Titans is the only tower defense game I liked and actually finished but seriously now…

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      Don’t worry, we do know what we’re doing.

      • eggy toast says:

        You made a handful of very popular games that were generally well received and have been blowing the money left right and center and are now on the brink of bankruptcy. That’s the polar opposite of “know what we’re doing”.

        • Premium User Badge

          princec says:

          Define “very popular” when you don’t know the sales figures. Actually we’ve posted them on our blog somewhere, and as you can see, they’re pitiful. But then again I don’t think we’ve made particularly good games.

          • eggy toast says:

            I’ve already taken the general advice to heart and switched over to working on today’s to-do list instead of being pissy online, but I wanted to come back quickly to sincerely say that at the end of the day I think small teams of people putting out products they believe in is the best possible realization of the goals of capitalism and I wish success for Puppy Games as a matter of principle, even if I might have some less than positive things to say in the process.

  7. Askis says:

    What little there is to see of Skies of Titan seems rather similar to Luftrausers…

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Luftrausers is just Wings Of Fury without the excellent ground attacks, isn’t it?

      • Premium User Badge

        princec says:

        We started Skies a looooong time ago: http://www.puppygames.net/blog/?p=299

        The prototype wasn’t turning out anything like Luftrausers. Except it had an aeroplane in it.

        • Askis says:

          While Wings of Fury was a 2D flying game too, it played very differently.
          The whole “Stall-Fighting” where you’re able to hang in the air to turn around and fire in any direction, then hit the throttle again to speed away, wasn’t possible in WoF, I saw that the first time in the old Luftrausers Flash version (not sure when that was published, but it was way before the full game they released recently), there might have been a game that did it before them, but if there was I’m not aware of it.

          I was only saying this based on the video though, the old screens with armed structures make it seem somewhat more interesting, since Luftrausers was all about the dogfighting.

      • TimorousBeastie says:

        As a massive fan of both, Luftrausers and Wings of Fury are significantly different games. While Wings of Fury has some semblance of being a game about WW2 flying, Luftrausers is more of a bullet-hell ballet game that happens to have planes involved.

  8. Vendae says:

    At the end of which we’d have no money left in the bank, no game that we could actually sell, and in all probability… no funding from Kickstarter. It’s a gamble. Free-to-play games are apparently even less popular than normal Kickstarter game projects, and we need a not-insignificant sum of money to get it to release. Furthermore we’re hobbled by having to do our project in UK sterling, which means we lose 20% of it to VAT, and probably another 33% of it due to the fact that most people backing Kickstarter are Americans and most Americans are terrified of anything that isn’t a US dollar and won’t back it.

    I feel this makes no sense at all, particularly the line about VAT. Considering VAT comes with goods and services acquired (and since Puppygames is not a customer but a business they file the forms but they do not pay it, anyway), income is not charged by VAT. They are bound to pay income taxes*, though.

    Still, I’d appreciate the assessment of someone who knows better than me.

    *And yet they are unlikely to pay taxes for 100% of the money raised, since they are generally paid on the profit, so their Theoretical Kickstarter Money would enjoy deducting expenses that can be fairly attributed to their activity.

    • eggy toast says:

      They spent so long convincing themselves they’d lose 20% here and 30% there that they lost 100% of the Kickstarter money by not doing one.

      It’s almost like they keep making bad decisions and losing money because of it.

      • Premium User Badge

        princec says:

        Unfortunately this is just how Kickstarter operates if you’re in the UK. 20% of the money is lost as VAT and not reclaimable without a hugely counterproductive amount of administration. Kickstarters in GBP make approximately 30% less money overall than roughly equivalent projects in USD. Then of course Kickstarter itself takes a chunk, and a fairly significant proportion of backer money actually never materialises.

        The upshot of it is, we’d have to ask for 50% more money than we actually need to make the game, and let’s not forget it’s your money, which we’d literally just throw away. That does rather suck. And on top of that it’d take 2 months of effort to produce and curate a decent kickstarter – so that’s another £10k down the drain just to raise the money in the first place…. for a project that is actually quite unlikely to succeed in Kickstarter. (“Why would I back a free game?”) So, still working out what to do here. I’ve got various schemes and plans that might work.

        • eggy toast says:

          You are missing the fact that you lost 100% by not even trying.

          • Premium User Badge

            princec says:

            You’re missing the fact that we haven’t tried yet. I haven’t said we’ll never do it… just that right now we don’t even have the money to attempt a Kickstarter project.

          • Bull0 says:

            100% of not enough money to make a game with is effectively nothing – in fact, worse than nothing, because you’ve squandered your fans’ money.

        • Chris England says:

          If you’re a UK company, you don’t have to charge VAT on sales made beyond the EU – which likely represent about 60%+ of your potential Kickstarter backers.

          • Premium User Badge

            princec says:

            It does actually look like they’ve addressed the VAT issue somewhat since last we looked (see here) which is quite promising. Still gotta raise the cash to actually do KS in the first place though.

          • Vendae says:

            @princec

            They way it works “now” is the way one expects it to work (VAT only paid over the service provided by KS). I heartily believe that’s the way it has always worked, but whatever.

            Thanks for putting the effort into answering.

          • Premium User Badge

            princec says:

            It does indeed seem to be different from how it was a year or two ago, which is ace.

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            We certainly got hit for VAT on the full amount for Sir. HMRC said it counted as UK-based sales of goods and/or services since it was paid via a UK company. I’m not convinced KS’ own fees page accurately describes the actual tax situation.

          • Premium User Badge

            princec says:

            Oh… bollocks.

          • Premium User Badge

            Continuity says:

            You can understand why HMRC would treat kickstarters as “sales” given that many kickstarters are literally people selling products. Seems a shame for those kickstarters who are genuinely looking for backers to fund a project however.

        • Borsook says:

          What about indiegogo?

          • Premium User Badge

            princec says:

            Haven’t really looked into Indiegogo yet – probably more risky than Kickstarter.

          • Borsook says:

            The plus of indiegogo is that it allows campaigns without a goal, you get everything people pledge and I think it is less costly to run. And has less publicity on the other hand…

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        Well, a kickstarter potentially cannibalises eventual sales, so going that route is not necessarily the right one. Successful sales from a quick game might get the studio on its feet and also produce goodwill and funds for a successful kickstarter pitch in the future.

        eggy toast, I’m not sure why you are so engaged in shouting down at these guys, given that you’ve played it seems a total of 1 of their games, which you didn’t like. Revenge of the Titans is a seriously awesome Tower Defense game.

        princec, it’s not wise to engage in these arguments. Personally, I’d wait for the game to be released, and let the game do the talking.

        • Premium User Badge

          princec says:

          Probably just got up on the wrong side of bed this morning, happens to half the internet every day. Statistically speaking :D

          Battledroid does have the slightly curious proposition of being free, which has all sorts of peculiar effects on a Kickstarter. Like, there won’t be any sales to cannibalise for starters. It’s really more of a “help fund this game and then we can make it for you” idea. It’s a bit hard to explain judging from the large number of negative comments surrounding the concept (people probably confusing it with the sort of “free to play” schemes that gave the whole idea a bad name in the first place). It really is free. Completely free.

        • eggy toast says:

          You are 100% right. They are making tons of really obvious, avoidable, stupid mistakes (including in this very comment section) and careening out of business, but I don’t know why I care at all. I suppose it’s just Monday morning procrastination.

  9. TomxJ says:

    aww, no! These guys can’t go under, they just ooze style! Looking foward to the next game though, close or no close.

  10. eggy toast says:

    To be honest I sunk an hour into Droid Assault single player and another hour into co-op and finally gave up and uninstalled it. I thought the whole thing was clunky and hard to interact with as well as poorly responsive, which is a pretty unforgivable combo in such a simple game.

    I apparently own Revenge of the Titans, too, but finding that out on Steam has also informed me that the endless mode for the tower defense game is a separate DLC, which is pretty ridiculous.

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      No it isn’t, it’s all been included in the base game since its first release.

      • eggy toast says:

        Whatever is in the sandbox mode DLC, it’s petty to charge extra for it.

        • Premium User Badge

          princec says:

          That’s easy for you to say, because you didn’t spend a year making it and don’t have to pay for the server upon which it runs.

          Seriously, wtf is your problem today, my friend? I’m enjoying playing troll baiting with you but I can’t quite help but think something bad must have happened to you this morning, and wondering if you’d care to share?

          • Niko says:

            Whoops, reply fail.

            Anyway, wish you guys the best of luck. Going to buy Droid Assault now to have all four of your games on Steam. Wish it would help.

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      btw it should be running at a slick 60Hz with ultrafine precision control … something not right with your rig?

      • eggy toast says:

        I didn’t mean that the game ran un-smoothly, I meant that it was not a fun, fluid, enjoyable play experience but rather a jerky mess where I was rarely able to do what I set out to do.

        • Premium User Badge

          princec says:

          Aw :( I suppose it’s not for everyone. The original idea on which it was based (“Paradroid”) was a cult hit back in the 80s but was never really quite as mainstream as most games because it was a bit .. weird.

    • Robin says:

      Eggy Toast – We get it, you have a grudge against this developer. Perhaps a load of mad, trivially-refuted lies wouldn’t be the best way to back up you argument?

      Droid Assault controls fantastically well, and perhaps if you’d played it longer you’d have found out it’s far from a simple game. Admittedly, the shallow difficulty ramp takes a very long time to get to the meat of the game – perhaps I was lucky to have played it before the prevailing PC culture of getting bundles of games for peanuts massively disincentivising time or skill investment took hold.

    • FFabian says:

      I loved Droid Assault and Revenge of the time. I actually bought both of them three times.

      • epeternally says:

        Ultratron is quite fun as well. I feel like the games drag on a little too long for it being a score attack game, but the actual gameplay is a blast.

  11. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Basingstoke based RPSer here to say feel free to wail on our beloved Hampshire town, more affectionately known round here as Basinghole. It is a town whose sole existence is based on being within an hours drive of London. What a painfully sad existence that is. Plus the alien landing thing makes a lot of sense, what with our crop circle-esque traffic system. Looking forward to seeing if my house got trashed in the invasion.

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      When I was stuck living in Basingstoke (working for Sony) I always thought it should be first up when the invasion came.

      • Pockets says:

        As someone who has lived in both the Basingstoke and Loughborough areas, you’d be wrong. In a thesaurus if you look up “mediocre” it gives you “Basingstoke”, that leaves a whole load of places worse than it (including Loughborough and half it’s surrounding areas).

        Basingstoke is just a supermarket own brand Milton Keynes.

        HG Wells was also pretty on-the-ball in that Woking is worse than Basingstoke in a lot of ways – I’ve never quite understood how somewhere surrounded by so many posh villages and leafy suburbs can be such a fucking dive.

    • JFS says:

      For our intercontinental friends, about 70 per cent of Europe is based on its somewhat close proximity to big cities. The remaining 30 per cent… we don’t talk about them.

    • Bull0 says:

      Basingstoke a k a “that shithole I had to catch a train in once”. Not that my town is nicer. But my town *knows* it’s a shithole.

      • Premium User Badge

        Continuity says:

        Eh, I live in Basingstoke and believe me I’m well aware of its shithole status, I don’t think anyone pretends otherwise.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Coincidentally, I am currently upgrading the firmware on a router in Basingstoke as I read this article. (I’ve never been there in person).
      Or as I pronounce it, B-Zing!-stoke.

  12. gibb3h says:

    I still always think of PCG whenever I hear Loughborough.

  13. Veav says:

    Basingstoke sounds at least six times more interesting than an F2P MMO and I’d actually spend money on it, so that’s a good sign!

  14. pipman3000 says:

    we’ve ended up wasting most of our cash on things that never flew,

    they bought a bunch of f-35′s?

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      Much more mundane than that I’m afraid. We spent about £80k trying to rescue our direct sales from their death spiral, which in blindingly obvious hindsight was an utterly stupid thing to do as we’ve never in all our history actually managed to earn £80k in direct sales so why we thought that was a good idea at the time I’ll never know.

      Then we experimented with some multiplayer game ideas but after a while we realised it was going to be a tough sell especially when world+dog was making multiplayer game ideas similar to ours, so we canned 6 months of effort there.

      Then we panicked about running out of money before Battledroid was going to be finished so we wasted another few months on Skies of Titan.

      It’s a litany of shame but then it’s only me, Chaz and Alli and we’ve not really got any idea what we’re doing. We just make games.

      • frightlever says:

        God knows I love day-drinking as much as the next guy but if you actually represent Puppygames then somebody needs to curtail your posting privileges for your own good.

        Also, you’ve claimed to know what you’re doing, and have no clue what you’re doing in the space of an hour and a half. That’s some Schroedinger’s Cat malarkey right there.

        • Premium User Badge

          princec says:

          I’m shober ash a judsh!

          We know what we’re about when it comes to making games we like making… but not so good at business decisions.

        • Baines says:

          He’s also said “I don’t think we’ve made particularly good games.”

          princec has posted like he’s trying to be a one-man PR disaster, determined to take his company down in flames.

          The blog post on PuppyGames (“Because You’re Worthless: The Dark Side of Indie PR”) is about as bad. Yes, it states some truths. Yes, if you sell your games for 50 cents, then an individual customer isn’t “worth” much to you. However, unlike what the article seems to want to say, just because someone paid you less than a dollar doesn’t mean that you have no obligation to deliver them a working product. Besides, PuppyGames chose to charge those prices. I guess that is why there is a section that insinuates Valve dictates everyone’s prices, and that the reason no one admits it is that no one is allowed to talk about it. (With a followup in the comments that confirms that no, he is not allowed to say anything more about Valve forcing prices for publishers.) As for the section on Phil Fish being right, it was almost comical.

          It is kind of funny that princec talked about this being a two-way street, but right now PuppyGames is showing the same attitude that the worst of the internet adapts. Arrogant, entitled, insulting, unwilling to listen, about the only thing missing is for PuppyGames to start lobbing death threats.

          • Damien Stark says:

            “princec has posted like he’s trying to be a one-man PR disaster”

            The blog post sort of alleges that it’s good strategy, in the “no such thing as bad publicity” school of thought. He claims that Phil Fish pissing people off is the reason he’s so successful. I’m pretty skeptical about this – perhaps Phil could sit down with Notch and explain all the money Mojang is leaving on the table by declining to troll people all over the Internet – but if Caspian really believes it, this may all be an intentional stunt to drum up visibility…

          • Baines says:

            Thinking about it, this does seem a lot like a desperate ploy to drum up attention.

            It may even be working, going by supporting comments here as well as PuppyGames’ blog post amassing nearly 300 comments. If their game sales are really so bad, then maybe they are at a point where the new supporters gained by this ruckus will outweigh the few existing supporters lost.

  15. Niko says:

    Aww, that’s bad. I really like Puppygames’s style.

  16. Alberto says:

    I SO DO LOVE Revenge of the titans looks and gameplay. Its furious, quick alien-blasting gameplay sessions, the hilarious and cute characters (I’d love to have a titan plushie).

    @princec:

    I’m one of those money-rich time-poor people someone mentioned above, and I didn’t beat the game (yet), but I think it excels in its genre. And, as someone who has screwed up his share of projects, I can only say: fuck haters (royally).

    You’re in your rights to make mistakes and overcome them. It’s good you did such a detailed briefing, for it focuses a lot lf interesting info in indie game company management, and I’m thankful at that.

    TL;DR: You’re great gamemakers. Keep on being.

  17. derbefrier says:

    I am with the dev here. Just because you gave them 10 bucks, or might give then 10 bucks doesn’t mean they have to sit there and listen to this asinine complaining because you think being a potential customer gives you free reign to shit all over them without them being able to defend themselves. God I hate people this is why I could never be a game dev these days. I have never been good at being patient with idiots and as a general rule unhappy customers are incapable of acting any other way. Specially gamers who if they stub their toe while playing your game will run to the internet to try and boycott you for it.

    Ughh reply fail this is what I get for buying a blackberry

  18. CookPassBabtridge says:

    In fairness, Basildon is more naturally terrifying

  19. DoctorCool says:

    There’s something about a developer responding in a manner other than brown-nosing every self-titled “consumer” bleating in self-righteous indignation that warms my little heart, like someone has carved a little Britain in the corner of this all-American internet and invited me over for tea and biscuits.

    • Bull0 says:

      Verily.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Tea and biscuits would indicate genteel politeness, but Lord Custard isn’t even anywhere to be seen.

      This is more the binge drinking and football hooliganism Britain. Loud, proud, drunk, and vomiting in your petunias at 3AM while getting a bit fighty with a picket fence they mistook for someone making a pass at their bird.

      • Bull0 says:

        Claiming tea and biscuits exclusively for people afraid to talk straight? I see.

        • LionsPhil says:

          People other than politicians can be polite, you know. At least so far as to convey their point effectively, rather than by instantly putting the other party’s guard up and discrediting the whole flaming spectacle to observers.

          • Bull0 says:

            Depends on the situation, really. I certainly don’t subscribe to the belief that everyone automatically deserves to be shown respect, all the time. Particularly when examining responses to vitriolic attacks, which (at least in princec’s head) is what most of his comments have been, I’m more than happy to excuse a bit of rudeness. Maintaining a pretense of politeness while calling someone a hopeless idiot is a weird kind of thing to do.

            And I’ve been known to enjoy a hobnob under my portrait of her Majesty in spite of that.

            Naturally when dealing with the general public the smart play is to keep mum, though. That much is pretty clear.

          • qrter says:

            It’s not even about showing “respect”, in the end it’s about communication, and writing a blog post like that only communicates anger and bitterness, not the actual idea contained within (which is a sound one, and one that deserves to be discussed).

            Look at all the people fixating on the “you are worthless” part – that’s not really what the piece is trying to communicate, but because of all the aggression in the tone of the post, that is what is being communicated.

            If someone screams at you, do you think “I wonder what he’s trying to say”, or do you think “fuck that guy, I have better things to do”.

  20. Bobka says:

    That Skies of Titan game looked pretty nice, from what little they showed, and this seems interesting. I’m 100% not interested in their F2P online game, though. Maybe I’ll grab Basingstoke when it comes out to give them a boost, but I wish they’d avoid going the F2P route.

  21. Bull0 says:

    I certainly hope Puppygames don’t go under – Revenge of the Titans is brilliant (and Titan Attacks is still functionally pretty good, just a bit basic). Basingstoke’s earned a purchase from me just for the premise, to be honest.

  22. wu wei says:

    Ultratron is an amazingly tuned twin-stick shooter with an incredible soundtrack. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys arcade action in its purist form.

  23. Erzerpel says:

    This Puppy must not be put down! I love your games, especially ROTT, even though I am worse than useless at it. I must admit that I have never been to Basingstoke and would love to explore your virtual version of it, especially with those adorable Titans around. As soon as you guys put up a humble widget (or something like it) on your website, consider some of my coinage yours.

  24. Frank says:

    Never been too keen on their other games, but this Basingstoke sounds excellent.

    On the other hand, it’s not terribly encouraging that Puppy may only be going this route reluctantly, to get on the proc-gen roguelite bandwagon.

  25. Premium User Badge

    ErraticGamer says:

    Can’t say as I have a firm opinion on Puppygames – I own Droid Assault and Revenge of the Titans via bundles, haven’t put much time into either but they seemed like well-made games.

    This roguelike sounds pretty interesting and I’ll be keeping it on my radar. Best of luck to you guys (princec and others there who may be reading).

  26. eggy toast says:

    Just going to leave this here:

    http://www.puppygames.net/blog/?p=1574

    hahahaha holy shit I retract my wish for them to succeed and replace it with an “in memoriam” because this blog post is suicide.

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      Oh dear eggy toast, you still haven’t figured it out yet.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Help him out?

        • Bull0 says:

          Well, for example, from the blog post he literally linked

          “The more we argue, the more we bait the trolls, the more we seem to get into a death spiral of internet hate… the better it is for us. There is no such thing as bad publicity. Phil Fish may have turned in to a gibbering bearded recluse but now he’s a famous gibbering bearded recluse. Phil Fish only has to tweet a fart and it’ll be all over the internet. Given that discovery is the #1 problem for an indie developer (and always has been), you can see that the more infamous and terrible we are … the more money we make.”

          • Armitage says:

            Phil Fish probably lost as much sales as he gained by troll baiting. Choosing him as a model is dubious at best and suicidal at worst.

          • Baines says:

            If the company is in money trouble, maybe they feel that they have nothing to lose at this point.

            As Damien Stark mentioned earlier in comments, this whole ranting developer bit could very well be a stunt to drum up publicity.

      • Premium User Badge

        ErraticGamer says:

        I’m much more on your side than he is, here, but surely you must understand that telling your customers – who can only consume your words as individual human beings – that they are individually worthless to your company is not the best business practice.

        Besides which, tempting and emotionally satisfying as it may be to say that, it ISN’T the mathematical reality you claim it to be. If a giant pile of customers carries worth, then a single individual customer is not worthless, and their loss is still felt by the giant pile, however slightly. Just because a certain number of stones are required to raise a pulley, and none of them could do it alone, does not make an individual stone “worthless” to the equation. That isn’t how math or language work.

        • Premium User Badge

          xao says:

          Oh, I dunno. I prefer a developer who doesn’t tell polite little lies in order to con me into buying their games. The fact of the matter is that any given customer at a few bucks a pop is pretty well worthless to a developer. It seems a bit… Orwellian to shout a developer down for acknowledging the truth. I don’t need them to shine me on about how important my dollar is to them. I just need them to make good games. If they do that, I’ll tender them currency in exchange for their services.

          In fact, I think I’ll go make sure my friends have the Ultrabundle right now.

          • Premium User Badge

            ErraticGamer says:

            I’m not shouting them down, I’m saying that it isn’t the truth. You can’t say “your dollar is worthless to me” or even “your 10 cents is worthless to me” but then simultaneously acknowledge that success is made up of piles of those cents and dollars. We live in an economy where many of the people who have gotten really, REALLY rich have done it by scraping a few cents off the top of a whole lot of other peoples’ dollars. Cents matter. A lot.

            Should Puppygames bend over backwards to appease people who are being jerks to them, to keep THEIR 10 cents? No, of course not. But that doesn’t equate to claiming that ALL the 10 cent contributions are individually worthless, and claiming it does belies a really unfortunate perspective on how small contributions equal monetary success. See also: subbable, patreon, kickstarter, etc etc. The people who are succeeding via those avenues are doing it by saying “every dollar helps”, not “your dollar is just a dollar, GTFO”.

          • Shuck says:

            @ErraticGamer: The problem is that with race-to-the-bottom pricing, any customer who makes any demands at all on the developer’s time isn’t just worthless, they’re actually a financial drain. Perversely, the ideal customer in this brave new world of worthless PC games* is the one that buys the game but then never actually installs or plays it. I wish more developers were willing to talk about how messed up this sales dynamic is, and what it means for customers.

            *Because not only is the customer worthless, but so are all the games Steam sells at these ridiculous prices. Worthless games make for worthless customers.

          • Premium User Badge

            ErraticGamer says:

            @Shuck – I actually totally agree with you there. I just think the blog post does a terrible job of explaining or discussing that issue, instead treating all customers as de facto problems without walking the reader through the way he gets to that conclusion.

          • Shuck says:

            @ErraticGamer: I thought it was pretty clear (in fact, it clarified some things for me that I’d been thinking about), but I was willing to overlook a title that might have put people’s backs up and caused knee-jerk reactions that prevented them from reading the rest of it thoughtfully (or, more likely, at all). It really lays out what cheap PC games mean: they do, indeed, turn players into problems.

    • Premium User Badge

      ErraticGamer says:

      It is shockingly self-defeating, for sure.

    • Jalan says:

      It’s posts like that which elicit (corrected, after the fact – thanks, jrodman!) a lot of ill will. Granted, a portion of the gaming community post-Bundlepocalypse has proven to be a bunch of entitled and vocal assholes, but telling even those who aren’t that they’re “worthless” in the scope of the bottom line is mind-bendingly insane.

      • bjohndooh says:

        If what you got out of that was the developer calling their customers worthless – you missed the entire point.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Unfortunately, if enough of your customers miss the point the same way, you still go bust.

          And if your opening gambit is to dismiss people as trolls, don’t be surprised if they don’t pay the nuances of your own argument a great deal of attention either.

          • Premium User Badge

            xao says:

            While it may be true that nobody ever went broke gambling on human stupidity, I appreciate the businesses that treat me like an adult. In this case, the blog post presumes a certain literacy level amongst the audience. Obviously, that misses the mark in some cases, but I don’t think we should be castigating a developer for giving us the benefit of the doubt.

          • Damien Stark says:

            Having read that blog post, I would not characterize it as “a business treating me as an adult”

            It reads like an episode of Chappelle’s “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong”, or an angry edgy 14-year old showing the world how he’s So Brave to tell truth to power when it’s “utterly fucking forbidden to ever say so” (direct quote).

            No, it’s not “utterly fucking forbidden to ever say so” it’s just dumb so most people don’t bother saying it.

            Yes, congratulations to you on discovering the concept of low margin business and the challenges of selling very low cost products. Yes, if you spend $1 on support costs for a customer who only yielded you 50 cents of profit at point of sale, that individual customer was a net loss.

            AND YET

            The biggest most successful companies and products are the cheapest ones. Toyota is making more money than Lamborghini. Walmart is making more money than Target. Free to play games are raking in 50 cent purchases by the truckload while companies making high quality $50-60 full release games are struggling.

            The fact that you have encountered a challenge in providing your product at a low price point does not mean that challenge is some insurmountable unspoken Truth which will destroy the industry. Tons of companies have made millions by conquering that very challenge.

          • LionsPhil says:

            It’s not literacy, it’s basic human respect.

            Dismissing someone as a troll (or fanboy, on the other end of the scale) says “I have disregarded your opinion and motives and ascribed you the role of a nefarious bogeyman set to cause all that is wrong on the Internet”. It is a statement that their words have no value, never mind dollars. It’s in the same set of non-arguments as “you’re just jealous”. All rational discourse ends here.

            Do not be surprised if the reponse to this is mutual.

        • Jalan says:

          If what was intended to be gained from it was more meaningful, then the lead up to it shouldn’t have been buried beneath that message. I didn’t dismiss the full point of the post but in this case, as others have pointed out, coming with it up front instead of playing anti-troll combat would’ve brought more benefit.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        I must apologise, but the word you were looking for is “elicit”.

        • Jalan says:

          You’re right. I can make no excuses for myself that won’t sound like obvious excuses on that one. Homonyms are not my strong suit.

    • Bull0 says:

      Guess you got through the to-do list, then.

    • Distec says:

      Regardless of the intent behind piece, I imagine the takeaway for most readers will be “F You”. The response will likely be equally pleasant.

      The quality of discourse between game companies and fans is definitely unfortunate, but I don’t know if it’s inherently that much different from most others. We know customers can be entitled and unreasonable, but the tamest description I can muster for this post is “ill-advised”.

      • Premium User Badge

        princec says:

        And yet I’m almost ashamed to tell you how much money it’s made. I’ve had lots of fun reading things like “Those dollars i spent on your shitty game will shure come in handy when you get cancer(hopefully)and have to pay your medical bills. O wait, i pirated that shit and i hope you’ll end up broke in a ditch.” and such too.

        • Armitage says:

          Reflecting the toxic troll bullshit is not going to win you any fans from guys like that me who just want to play something fun.

      • Jalan says:

        I’ve seen the gaming community do some truly ugly things. Things that, in all honesty, make me sad to consider myself a gamer or part of such a community. One recent incident was involving Toxic Games and the release of a newer version of Q.U.B.E.

        Granted, some things said by representatives of the developer did leave open a window of discussion about charging for what is a repackage with additional content, but the way a surprising number of people responded to it was far less than civil and unwarranted. It also made me realize that apparently it is alright to reference Phil Fish as if he were the boogeyman of game culture when stuff like this pops up.

  27. filsd says:

    I must be crazy or something, like Alice, but I love all Puppygames games.
    I will most certainly buy this roguelike thing from then, even if half the internet thinks the game sucks. :]

  28. thekelvingreen says:

    I thought this was going to be one of those things where an American company picks a place name without any sense of what the place is like — see the D&D scenario Dark Times in Brighton — but it is set in Basingstoke. That’s ace. Unlike Basingstoke.

  29. Wytefang says:

    Ah, nothing like naming a game after some obscure city that most people, except for the country in question, will have no idea about.

    It’s like calling a game “Duluth.” Huh?

    • Tei says:

      You have to start somewhere with brand recognition. Maybe in 10 years, all zombie games will be show to happen in this city (unlikelly). I question that the name is hard to remember for non-natives. I would have hard time googling this or remembering the exact spelling.

  30. AlexStoic says:

    Hi there, Caspian. I’m Alex from Stoic/Banner Saga. Your site has already crashed, probably due to lots of traffic, making dropping you a line difficult. I’d love to chat. Would you please contact me at carbon.eight@gmail.com?

  31. Solrax says:

    I’ll buy it! I’ll buy Skies of Titan too. And Battledroid. I’ve bought all the Puppygames games and love them. Revenge of the Titans is my favorite tower defense game by a mile. I’d hate to see you go out of business.

  32. princessc says:

    Hey guys, this is puppy games checking in again. We’ve got bad news – none of our remaining games will be finished. On top of going bankrupt, we’ve determined that devoting time to finishing those games wouldn’t give us sufficient time to troll on the internet. You guys have to understand that trolling is a significant part of what failing devs do. We get trolled on a daily basis and without trolling in return the trolls would just be ignored and we would actually finish our games.

  33. bangermash says:

    so there is now some interesting developments happening on 4chan right now. these guys are preparing to exist steam.

    http://boards.4chan.org/v/thread/259036718

    backing up the picture in case that thread gets 404ed.
    http://i.imgur.com/6Rk9bo3.png

    • Emeraude says:

      Interesting tidbits if true about the pricing thing.

      • Premium User Badge

        princec says:

        I don’t really understand 4chan… by the time you get to know there’s a “discussion” (term used loosely there, looking at the actual thread) on anything, it’s archived or 404ed. Is it like some sort of secret underground thing?

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