Cthulhu RPG Dev Trying to Break Out of Xbox Live

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Cthulhu RPG Dev Trying to Break Out of Xbox Live

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Xbox Live Indie Games might not be a perfect match for Zeboyd Games, but it needs a little help before moving on.

One of the most unique Xbox Live Indie Games developers out there is Zeboyd Games, a team of three that have already made a name for themselves with two humorous, retro-style RPGs called Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World. However, due to the structure of the XBLIG platform, it's just not cutting the mustard. Zeboyd needs a little help to bring its style of RPGs to the PC and beyond, and has set up a Kickstarter donation page in the hopes of getting that help.

Microsoft pays XBLIG developers in what appear to be inconvenient quarters, meaning that profits from the first portion of 2011 won't be paid until May. This is one of Zeboyd's issues. Another is that while the $3 Cthulhu Saves the World, Zeboyd's latest release, is selling very well for an XBLIG game, that unfortunately still means it's only moving an average of around 200 copies per day and declining. Zeboyd isn't complaining, but the current level of sales cannot support full time game development.

Zeboyd posted on its website: "XBLIG is quickly proving itself to be a less than ideal platform for our kind of games. If we want to become a full time development studio, then just making games for XBLIG is not going to work."

Through its Kickstarter page, Zeboyd is trying to raise $3,000 to port Cthulhu Saves the World to the PC. With the port will come the addition of a mode nixed due to time constraints called Cthulhu's Angels, an obvious parody of Charlie's Angels where Cthulhu is too lazy to be a hero and convinces a group of "talented women" to do some heroic deeds for him instead. This content will also be patched into the Xbox 360 version.

Zeboyd adds that once the PC port of Cthulhu is finished, Breath of Death VII is a shoe-in for a port, and future games will likely go multi-platform as well. Like all Kickstarter donation rallies, supporters will be rewarded based on amount given with anything from chiptune remixes of Cthulhu's soundtrack to tiny Cthulhus, or even with a role as a townsperson in an upcoming game.

Zeboyd's two available products are both enjoyable RPGs developed with an interesting sense of humor. Despite a retro exterior and casts of silly characters, they have strong underlying JRPG-style gameplay mechanics that make them successful and worth playing to the end. I'd personally like to see what a company like Zeboyd could do working full time at their craft with a comfortable budget, as all its efforts up to this point have been part-time only. If you feel the same way, Zeboyd's Kickstarter page is here.

Source: Zeboyd Games

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This smells like amnesia envy but maybe that's just the poop in my trousers.

I'd gladly have paid $5, even $10 for Breath of Death, and haven't tried CSTW yet.

Making these games only a dollar is freaking nuts.

Get 'em on Steam, or hook up with the Humble Bundle people.

Really? A bigger budget for a Pc port? Heh, guess i might be getting complacent with working on Pc only then. Checked out their work, seems rather cool, hope they do well with the port, might pick it up.

Hmmm,

I'm probably missing something here, but I am not getting why these three guys can't just work on the PC format to begin with, and deal with other indie-friendly platforms like STEAM. I mean, okay, I got it... money is tight, and Microsoft isn't going to be giving them their cut for a few months. I also get that they want to go on to do full time game development which is a fine dream, but can't afford to support themselves why they do it. It seems to me that they just need to be patient.

To be honest they seem to be doing really well, in a slow starting industry. I mean I remember back when Apogee, and Epic were distributing games the hard way as Shareware through BBS systems. If these guys are getting 200 sales a day on average right now (even if it's going to slow) they seem to be rocking for a group just starting out at this level.

Therumancer:
Hmmm,

I'm probably missing something here, but I am not getting why these three guys can't just work on the PC format to begin with, and deal with other indie-friendly platforms like STEAM. I mean, okay, I got it... money is tight, and Microsoft isn't going to be giving them their cut for a few months. I also get that they want to go on to do full time game development which is a fine dream, but can't afford to support themselves why they do it. It seems to me that they just need to be patient.

Because getting on XBLIG is ridiculously cheap.

$99 a year for up to ten game submissions, and a 70% return on sales.

*double-post removed*

I pledged money.

Because, I'm a god damn saint.

You all wish you were as great as I am.

MrSnugglesworth:
I pledged money.

Because, I'm a god damn saint.

You all wish you were as great as I am.

That ain't nothin, I pledged my undying sanity to our great and mighty, for Cthulhu Fhtagn!

May his heroic deeds spark the delightful end!

While I'm sure they're very nice games to play, I refuse to donate money. If they're going to shaft the European XBLA, I don't see any reason why I should fund their games.

cursedseishi:

MrSnugglesworth:
I pledged money.

Because, I'm a god damn saint.

You all wish you were as great as I am.

That ain't nothin, I pledged my undying sanity to our great and mighty, for Cthulhu Fhtagn!

May his heroic deeds spark the delightful end!

...jerk...

Andronicus:
While I'm sure they're very nice games to play, I refuse to donate money. If they're going to shaft the European XBLA, I don't see any reason why I should fund their games.

Indie company, I'm not so sure they can afford to do the translations that might be required for it.
That, and perhaps Microsoft is at fault, and not them. they might have to pay for the rights to publish there, as well as here, who knows.

MrSnugglesworth:

cursedseishi:

MrSnugglesworth:
I pledged money.

Because, I'm a god damn saint.

You all wish you were as great as I am.

That ain't nothin, I pledged my undying sanity to our great and mighty, for Cthulhu Fhtagn!

May his heroic deeds spark the delightful end!

...jerk...

You're just jealous that your sane mind couldn't come up with it before my insanity made me pledge myself to it!

And... I heard he has some rather soft tentacles, I want his secret!

OH GOD AN INDIE DEV IS ASKING ME FOR MONEY

HERE I HAVE SOME IN MY PANTS

YOU CAN HAVE THE PANTS TOO

THEY ARE MY SPECIAL PANTS

(It's weird that I seem to be making fun of people who are giving money when in fact I'm just exaggerating what I really feel.)

cursedseishi:

Andronicus:
While I'm sure they're very nice games to play, I refuse to donate money. If they're going to shaft the European XBLA, I don't see any reason why I should fund their games.

Indie company, I'm not so sure they can afford to do the translations that might be required for it.
That, and perhaps Microsoft is at fault, and not them. they might have to pay for the rights to publish there, as well as here, who knows.

MrSnugglesworth:

cursedseishi:

That ain't nothin, I pledged my undying sanity to our great and mighty, for Cthulhu Fhtagn!

May his heroic deeds spark the delightful end!

...jerk...

You're just jealous that your sane mind couldn't come up with it before my insanity made me pledge myself to it!

And... I heard he has some rather soft tentacles, I want his secret!

Old Spice is his secret, all hail to Old Spice... I mean Ctuhlu!!!

JEBWrench:

Therumancer:
Hmmm,

I'm probably missing something here, but I am not getting why these three guys can't just work on the PC format to begin with, and deal with other indie-friendly platforms like STEAM. I mean, okay, I got it... money is tight, and Microsoft isn't going to be giving them their cut for a few months. I also get that they want to go on to do full time game development which is a fine dream, but can't afford to support themselves why they do it. It seems to me that they just need to be patient.

Because getting on XBLIG is ridiculously cheap.

$99 a year for up to ten game submissions, and a 70% return on sales.

200 copies a day for 3 dollars at 70% is still 2940 dollars a week. If there are 3 guys in the team that's a 1000 bucks a week or 4K a month. Which by the way is probably better than many large game studio salaries per week depending on seniority.

$25 gets you a special mention (hopefully in the big credits list). Seeing my name there will give me smile.

3 guys, 1000$ each... that rise so many questions. Are they held hostage by microsoft and can't contact their family?, microsoft made banks deny them a mortgage? why 30 days? are they holding hostage their own designed level and if someone doesn't pay the ransom they are gonna hit delete? which month is this?, cause this news looks like something that belong to April.

Akalabeth:
200 copies a day for 3 dollars at 70% is still 2940 dollars a week. If there are 3 guys in the team that's a 1000 bucks a week or 4K a month. Which by the way is probably better than many large game studio salaries per week depending on seniority.

$4300 a month is below par, and that's not even counting the fact that they don't get benefits. The current level of sales also isn't sustainable.

Hi, this is Robert Boyd, the founder/designer/programmer/writer of Zeboyd Games.

I was rather surprised to see this article. We didn't do a press release for this fundraiser - I just posted on our website, our twitter account, and a few forums where I have a presence. We were targeting the fundraiser at our friends, family, fans and supporters and not the general populace. I'm not upset about this article or anything, just a little surprised.

To answer a few concerns and questions that have been brought up here...

A friend of mine heard about our lack of funding and suggested kickstarter. I checked it out, thought it looked like a decent site, and decided that we'd give it a try. Either we'd raise some money and we'd have more time and resources to develop in the first part of 2011 than we would have otherwise or we wouldn't and we'd be no worse off than we were before. I mean, I guess we might get a few people might think we were being greedy to try to raise funds, but given that we've already released two quality games at prices far below what companies usually charge for RPGs, I think we'll be okay on that front.

The point of this fundraiser is twofold - one, to speed things along and two, to give us the extra time to add some cool extra features to Cthulhu Saves the World. If the fundraiser fails, then yes, we will continue taking the "patient" route - the PC version will get done eventually (later than it would have if the fundraiser had succeeded), but there will be no extra features added (we'll be busy trying to get our 3rd game done by the end of August since it has high potential for being a bigger critical and commercial success than our first 2 games).

As for shafting Europe, Cthulhu Saves the World is available in every country in the world that has XBox Live Indie Games including several major European countries like the UK, France, and Germany. If you can't buy it, it's because Microsoft does not support indie games in your country. And if you're talking about the game only being in English, we're a three person team - we don't have the resources to translate the game, test the game in each language, and then market it in each language. At one point, we considered translating the game into German since we had a translator willing to help out there, but in the end, the extra time programming and debugging multiple langauges outweighed the benefits.

And yes, if the game sold 200 copies a day at $3 a piece forever, those would be solid sales. The problem is that daily sales tend to decrease at a fairly rapid rate early on. Not only that, but sales for Cthulhu Saves the World are falling at a faster rate than Breath of Death VII's sales did. I don't know where XBLIG copies of Cthulhu Saves the World sales will stabilize, but it will probably be far below 200/day.

Amnesia envy? Why Amnesia? There are plenty of indie games that have done better than Amnesia. If we were looking to an indie game for inspiration, it would be Recettear - it's done very well for itself and offers good evidence that there's a market for quality JRPGs on the PC.

If you're a fan of what we've done and would like to see us with the capabilities of doing even better and more ambitious projects, then please help us out by donating a few dollars. If you would like to see the new remix mode in Cthulhu Saves the World, please donate because we won't have the time to add it otherwise. And if you don't care about any of this, then don't. Regardless of what happens, I fully intend to continue to build our company up as a developer of high quality games - it's just a matter of how much time and difficulty will be involved.

A direct connection with the people. At the risk of sounding like a hipster, this is why I love indie.

I'll definitely have to check the bank account and throw at least a few bucks - I love their games and have been pestering my friends and co-workers to try them out.

I want to be a townsperson. o.o
But...$750? Gah!

I think I'll go buy Breath of Death and Cthulhu saves the world, and if their good I'll donate some money. I also love it when indie company actually make a direct connection to people like you guys just did. Really, really cool.

Fusioncode9:
I think I'll go buy Breath of Death and Cthulhu saves the world, and if their good I'll donate some money. I also love it when indie company actually make a direct connection to people like you guys just did. Really, really cool.

As somebody who's played Cthulhu Saves The World, it's a fun game. It was a faithful homage to the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis era JRPGs (you know, back when they were actually RPGs and not glorified movies) with plenty of humor to spare. If you like games like that and appreciated the humor of, say, Earthbound, you'll probably get a kick out of Cthulhu Saves The World.

Also, to the creators, I'll have to check my bank account as well, but I might donate a few dollars. I would like to see this Cthulhu's Angels mode, and I'm assuming Umi and October would be two of the characters in this mode?

Yes, if we are able to create the Cthulhu's Angels mode, Umi and October would be two of the playable characters. October would start out at a lower LV than in the normal game so you'd be able to customize her a bit differently this time around.

The third playable character would be Molly the Were-Zompire from my previous e-book of the same name. That e-book was originally intended to be a full blown RPG anyway so it'll be nice to stick her in an RPG even if it's just a silly side mode. Oh and Molly did plenty of dimension hopping in her own story so it's not like sticking her in another game breaks continuity or anything. :)

WTF? There's a Cthulhu game on Xbox Live and I didn't know about it? C'mon! I even went looking for one a short while back! Was I not looking hard enough, or has it materialized under my nose? I need to write this down.
Well, Company that has a name that I can't spell by instant memory, tommorow you will have $3 on your way to $3,000. Hope it helps some. I hate JRPG's, but this looks extremely amusing and fun.

the whole regular XBL and a section just for indie games isn't really doing it for me

even if you don't want/care about Achievements, it's still stuck in its own tiny corner amidst all the big Arcade stuff where the majority of users don't see it. raise it up to the same level (i.e. out of the IG bin) if the developer shows some promise (which in this case...does)

Zeboyd Games:
As for shafting Europe, Cthulhu Saves the World is available in every country in the world that has XBox Live Indie Games including several major European countries like the UK, France, and Germany. If you can't buy it, it's because Microsoft does not support indie games in your country. And if you're talking about the game only being in English, we're a three person team - we don't have the resources to translate the game, test the game in each language, and then market it in each language. At one point, we considered translating the game into German since we had a translator willing to help out there, but in the end, the extra time programming and debugging multiple langauges outweighed the benefits.

Firstly, let me apologise for saying Europe; I'm used to just lumping Australia in with European digital distribution stores because of the bloody stupid European PSN, which includes Australia and New Zealand. To be honest, I don't know how it works on the XBLA in Australia. All I know is that everyone talks about these games, and how good they are, and as far as I can see, there is absolutely no reason why Australia shouldn't have access to them. We are an English speaking country. While we don't have a specific "Indie Games" section on the store, there are still indie games sold within the main games section, and I don't see any reason why Microsoft would choose not to sell it here. Both Zeboyd and Microsoft would profit from these games being sold in Australia.

The only reason I can imagine that are not sold in Australia is because someone very high up at Zeboyd Games has at some point been sexually violated by an individual of Australian origin and has henceforth refused that any Australian be allowed to play their games. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I would have gladly donated with no reward... but I LOOOOVE world maps, especially of the type that came with the old school games like Zelda, the old Final Fantasy games, and so on. I'd love to see this team move up!

Zeboyd Games:
Hi, this is Robert Boyd, the founder/designer/programmer/writer of Zeboyd Games.

I was rather surprised to see this article. We didn't do a press release for this fundraiser - I just posted on our website, our twitter account, and a few forums where I have a presence. We were targeting the fundraiser at our friends, family, fans and supporters and not the general populace. I'm not upset about this article or anything, just a little surprised.

Not sure if you follow along a lot of the major news sites, but I've noticed that the Escapist team really tries to dig up the deep stuff for games it likes. If it wasn't a news site, I'd say they're a bit stalkerish, but as it is, they're just being extremely thorough! This is the same place I first heard of minecraft, which they diligently keep track of, and also Johnathan Blow's next project, which I can't wait for. Gotta have more games!

Zeboyd Games:
Hi, this is Robert Boyd, the founder/designer/programmer/writer of Zeboyd Games.

Obvious potential flame war starter, but I'm actually interested in your honest business responses:

Why did you not do this for either PSN or iOS, or, perhaps less antagonistic, do you have plans for either the PSN or iOS versions of your game?

What factors were the biggest part of your decision to deploy on XBLA first?

No matter what your answers are, I wish you success in raising capital, and even more success on returning it with a gain. ;)

Andronicus, the reason why XBox Live Indie Games aren't allowed in Australia is because the Australian government has idiotic censorship rules about videogames. XBLIGs are unrated and so the Australian government doesn't allow them (note: they're unrated because getting official ratings are expensive, not because they're inappropriate in most cases). If our games were on XBLA instead of XBLIG, then we might be able to release in Australia, but XBLA costs more money than we can afford at the moment. So don't blame us or Microsoft, blame your own government.

We started out with XBLIG development because the barrier to entry is the lowest. Since I already owned a PC & a 360, becoming an XBLIG developer only cost $99/year to register (all the development software is free). Becoming an iOS developer would have requited purchasing a Mac & an iPhone/iTouch/iPad and becoming a PSN developer would have been even worse and required getting official approval from Sony and purchasing an expensive development kit. Plus, XBLIG is easier than most platforms to develop for since it uses C# which is good for us since I'm a hedge programmer (self-taught).

Will we support the PSN in the future? Probably not. The PSP is on death's door and the PS3's sales have been seriously lagging behind the competition of late. More importantly, the system was just recently seriously cracked so piracy is likely to become rampant - not exactly a great environment to start developing for. I'm a big fan of Sony as a gamer (loved the PS2 back in the day and the PSP is my second favorite system after the 360), but it doesn't make a lot of business sense at the moment to support them.

As for iOS support in the future, that's a bit more likely, though we still haven't decided anything for sure there. We've received lots of requests to put our stuff out on various phones so there's probably a market for us there. The big problem is porting - whereas porting to the PC or WP7 would be relatively easy since our games use XNA & C#, porting to iOS would require a complete engine rewrite since they use different programming languages. The ideal circumstance would be if an experienced iOS developer or publisher came to us and wanted to license our games for the iOS.

Zeboyd Games:
Andronicus, the reason why XBox Live Indie Games aren't allowed in Australia is because the Australian government has idiotic censorship rules about videogames.

Yet they are available in Germany...

Zeboyd Games:
Andronicus, the reason why XBox Live Indie Games aren't allowed in Australia is because the Australian government has idiotic censorship rules about videogames. XBLIGs are unrated and so the Australian government doesn't allow them (note: they're unrated because getting official ratings are expensive, not because they're inappropriate in most cases). If our games were on XBLA instead of XBLIG, then we might be able to release in Australia, but XBLA costs more money than we can afford at the moment. So don't blame us or Microsoft, blame your own government.

How much would it cost to have one of your games rated? My credit card awaits.

If I'm not mistaken, ESRB ratings for smaller projects cost about $800 to procure. I don't know how much it costs to get rated by whatever organization is responsible for ratings in Australia.

Of course, it's not that simple. We would still have to publish on XBLA to get it in Australia and that would cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But hey, if we are able to release a PC version, we won't have to deal with the XBLIG restrictions and so people who don't live in one of the XBLIG supported countries like Australia will be able to purchase the game.

Oh and to my great surprise and joy, it appears that our kickstarter project has already raised over a thousand dollars after only being up for a little over a day. Wow. I'm truly grateful.

Love the games, and would love to support Zeboyd. Only problem is, by the time I have the spare cash to donate(a little over a week, just spent all I could on a birthday gift for my girlfriend), the 3000 dollar mark will have most likely been hit. Will the donation page be taken down after that goal is reached? If so, will there be alternative methods to donate, even without the special rewards?

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