What Next for Binary Space?

A few months ago I wrote about the eight years of zombie games that Binary Space has developed. Here’s a timeline showing the milestones of the major releases of Class 3 Outbreak (C3O) and Zombie Outbreak Simulator (ZOS), as well as a high-level view of what we were working on month-to-month.

For most of those eight years I’ve worked on Binary Space in my spare time around my full-time day job and family. There was a brief period in mid 2011 when I took a break from work for 6 weeks to focus on Binary Space full-time – but this turned out to be a disaster when our funding fell through. For about 7 months in 2014 I dropped to working 4 days a week so I could spend the extra day a week on creating ZOS for Android, in addition to my spare time. And in July and October 2016 there was a bit of a lull with my day job and so I was able to spend a bit more time working on the ZOS for iOS update.

There have also been a few gaps over the years in working on Binary Space – mostly just taking a break between releases, or when I started working at a new startup at the beginning of 2015 which took up all my spare time.

For most of Binary Space’s history it’s made almost no money at all. For the first 4 years up until January 2013, I made a grand total of $120 of profit. In 2014, although ZOS for Android was built using funding from Screen Australia (thanks Screen Australia!), I gave most of the funding to people I hired, only paying myself $700 (for 700 hours of work!).

By the beginning of 2015, not only was I working more-than-full-time at a new startup, but ZOS for Android appeared to be dying a quick death with its first few months of lukewarm sales:

Due to the extra funding that Screen Australia provided (I originally asked for $20k but they gave me $30k instead), ZOS for Android contained a bunch of extra features over ZOS for iOS. This included soldiers, rescue helicopters, player maps, and a whole new UI. My plan had always been to port these new features back to iOS as well, but with being busy in 2015 and the not-so-great response to ZOS for Android, this got put on hold.

But then, later in 2015 ZOS for Android suddenly picked up all by itself, without me doing anything!

So, early in 2016 I was inspired to finally get back to ZOS for iOS, with the update released in October 2016. After no updates for so long, ZOS for iOS was way behind ZOS for Android in terms of the number of people playing it. So after the update was released, I spent a bit of time on marketing it – as well as taking a bit of a break.

And so now, for the last few months I’ve been thinking about what to do next.

Way back in 2009 Jay and I started developing the original C3O – a game where you controlled a small group of people (police, scientists, pilots) against the backdrop of a zombie outbreak. In 2010 we renamed the original Class 3 Outbreak to ‘Classic Class 3 Outbreak’, and started developing a new C3O based on an editor. Again in this game you controlled a small group of people (this time surviving civs) while the outbreak raged around you. We launched an open beta for C3O and continued adding more to it, but it has always been a long way from completion.

We never really planned to develop ZOS at the beginning. We initially created ZOS for the web as a ‘teaser’ for the full game of Classic C3O. It wasn’t really a game at all – just a toy where you could tweak settings. Then in 2011 when we decided to try iOS development, we thought we’d do ZOS first as it was the simplest possible thing to try. And then again in 2013, I decided to port ZOS to Android first. Although I added a few extra features to C3O back in late 2012 / early 2013, development of C3O has basically been on hold since around mid 2011, and the major focus for ages has been on ZOS and mobiles.

I have always wanted to get back to C3O for the web/PC “one of these days”. My plan had been to continue to build C3O for the web into a full game, incorporating some of the elements from ZOS (like soldiers, bombs, helicopters, etc). And then, eventually combine everything into creating a version of C3O for iOS / Android as well. I know many of you have been waiting for me to get back to C3O for ages, and I haven’t had a good answer for when that would happen. Sorry everyone :(

However, there are two main problems with C3O in its current form. The first is that it was built way back in 2009 using Flash. At the time that was the only option, but now the whole game needs to be rewritten in JavaScript. The second problem is that building a game on Google Maps is The Worst Thing, because Google keep updating the maps. While it’s a neat hook, it also makes everything harder.

So… I’ve decided that I won’t be returning to development of the current version of C3O. Instead, I’m going to build an entirely new zombie game from scratch. This will be a kind of sequel or successor to C3O, although it will have a different style and gameplay – not just a new version of the same game. One thing is for sure – it won’t be based on Google Maps. I plan to make it a downloadable game for PC (Windows or Mac), presumably sold on Steam and/or other stores. I might (or might not) think of a better name than “Class 3 Outbreak 2” :)

I’m currently in the extremely early stages of planning this game. Right now it’s little more than an idea, and so I’m still figuring out all of the details myself. I’ll post more info about what I’m thinking the game will be like as things progress.

One great thing is that both ZOS for Android and ZOS for iOS since the update are continuing to do well. I now have a sizeable chunk of cash that I’ve been saving up while I considered what to do next. And so I’ll be able to afford to hire people to help me out on the new game. If you’re interested, keep an eye out for the job ads I’ll be posting soon (or if you’re super-keen, feel free to contact me now).

I still have the day job and so will still be working on Binary Space in my spare time as I have through its whole history. But now that I’ve started something new, and now that I can afford to hire people to help, I’m aiming for development to progress at a steady pace.

I’m looking forward to this next chapter for Binary Space! :D


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