Death Ray Manta SE Launched

Phew. Here we go then, Death Ray Manta SE is go and what a ride it’s been.

It’s available to buy on Steam, DRM free (hah!) on itch.io and for one week only, in a Humble Bundle.

(In case you’re wondering, best *for me* is itch.io, Steam in second, Humble after. Best for making your money stretch further will vary, natch)

The Bundle

For the first week, you can grab both the game and a snapshot of the source code from Humble in the Humble Weekly.

I did promise that the game would be affordable at launch, right? So there we are. I can promise that unless an absolutely amazing opportunity presents itself that I just can’t say no to, this will be the cheapest the game will be for *at least* 12 months. It’ll surprise no-one to find out that I’m not expecting such an opportunity to land so, yeah.

FACT FANS: It took less than 24 hours from launch for Indie Gala to contact me and ask me to be in a bundle and inform me they have slots free this month. Needless to say, this is the exact sort of unhealthy and exploitative behaviour I referred to in my previous post on pricing. This is not bundling in the interests of developers or players, this is industrial scale bundling that only serves to keep bundlers bundling along. So no, Indie Gala. I do not want to be in your bundle this month or next month. Or indeed ever unless you clean up your act.

But anyway.

How we got here

There’s a couple of reasons for launching with Humble and YoYo. I wanted a way of being able to encourage people to have a shot at making their own twin stick shooters (I’m selfish, I like playing them and I want more) but more than that, I wanted people to be able to look at the flashy light stuff I do and know that making a game that looks really nice isn’t as out of reach as they might expect. But how did this all come about?

A fair few months back YoYo asked me would I be willing to put the old Death Ray Manta (2012 version) in a bundle with the source code. To which the answer would have sort of been “umm not really”. To say that the source code to that thing is an unreadable mess would be a giant understatement. As I’ve detailed elsewhere, I’ve never really been happy with the game either. So what to do? Well, I’ve had a Steam deal sitting there, I’ve got a fair few bits and bobs I’m using for New-DRM that I could do something with and I haven’t put anything out in 3 years so I need a bit of cheering up. And nowt would cheer me up more than being able to try and get more folks into making games somehow so…

With that in mind, I rebuilt Death Ray Manta from scratch to make it shinier, twin stickier and did it in such a way that beginners could get to grips with the source code and use that source code in next to no time at all. If you’ve never considered writing a game before, you can be up to speed for working with GM and Death Ray Manta in a week, easy. It wasn’t the easiest task I’ve ever undertaken, especially given that life is a bit up the wall this year with me not being at my tippermost toppermost health but I think I did OK with it in the end and hopefully folks can get something from it.

Anyway, obviously as you now know I said “yes, I’ll do this” and “yes, let’s put this on Steam as well”.

Launches Are Scary

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t worried about how launching in this manner would go but I’ve been genuinely overwhelmed by how great the support is. I haven’t managed to get a game across the finishing line and out the door in 3 years and everything you know about surviving in games changes constantly. I keep my ear to the ground, I knew a lot of what to expect and still a lot surprises me.

It’s even more scary when you’ve had this daft idea to build a game from the ground up and know that’s going to take you right up until the deadline to manage. It’ll probably surprise no-one to find out that I was still tweaking hours before launch. (After a few days break, I’ll be back onto things to fill out the stuff I never got chance to put in)

Add to the mix a necessary level of secrecy around how you launch the game (you generally don’t announce HEY I’M IN A HUMBLE!!!111 before the Humble launches) and doing press relations stuff pretty much fell by the wayside. A combination of just me working on a thing, family life and deadlines all conspired to make this “the launch where Rob does everything he’d advise you not to do”.

I didn’t manage to drop a press release until a day before launch and I only managed one solitary email to the press before that. I can hear the Gamasutra comments section and Twitter knowbetterati tutting from here.

To top it all off, I’m releasing a small videogame on Steam and that’s a hairy enough proposition at the best of times unless handled carefully.

As it is between Humble, Steam and Itch.io and the kindness of everyone out there, the game has already way outperformed what I’d ever hope for a small game like this to manage in the year of our Molyneux 2015. Seriously though, I went to bed last night with a big grin on my face knowing that not only had I reached my lowest goal of “be able to afford a copy of Mario Maker” but “Christmas will be pretty alright in the end”. I’m very happy with how things have panned out so far.

Obviously, I absolutely do not recommend this route to anyone. Not only is it hyper stressful, it’s got way, way more points where it could all come collapsing around you. And, of course, it helps that I have incredibly modest goals for success with this. Vastly more important to me is getting the source code and stuff out there for folks and having a bit of fun doing it.

(as an aside, if you’re looking at the Humble numbers and thinking “Man, I bet Rob is going to be well comfortable from this”, I’m afraid not. I’m not seeing that much money from this at all!)

The Source

The Source is a snapshot of Death Ray Manta’s development. I’ll update it for compatibility issues with newer versions of Gamemaker but it won’t be updated alongside the release version. In fact, the source is already a number of revisions out of date. So yeah. The main reason for this is that whilst I want to encourage learning and stuff, the game is still very much a commercial concern for me in a lot of ways, right?

So what can you do with that source? You can remix it, rejig it, throw it up on the internet, strip out the assets and use them for your own works or whatever. And yes, you can use it as the basis for commercial works.

I know for a lot of folks who’ve put their source in to this bundle, they’re kinda licensing it to use for personal use and educational purposes only and that’s cool! We all have our own lines of comfort we draw. For me though, as far as I’m concerned if you have the source I don’t care if you Harry S Price it, learn from it, build off of it, remix what I’ve got in there or just tinker with it to see what happens. You have my blessing to go and do something with it. Make Death Ray Manta better, make Death Ray Manta worse, mess it up, improve it, use it as the base to go and do wild things with. It’s cool!

The only gotcha is please don’t reuse the music from the main game in any capacity. I only license it (not own it) so it’s not mine to give away, thanks.

All that said, I’d love it if you told me what you’d made with it. No matter how small. Drop me a tweet and help cheer an old man up, yeah?

Right. That post turned out a lot longer than I anticipated so in the interests of going off and eating my tea, I’ll wrap that up here until the next one.

Thanks mightily to everyone who has supported and helped get Death Ray Manta here now. It’s appreciated.

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