Archive for Saxon

Zombie Outbreak Simulator: Funded By and For Australia

Back in 2012, the Australian government announced $20 million in funding to support the local game development industry. The plan was to spend $10m over 2012-2013 and the other $10m over 2014-2015.

In 2013 I decided to apply for funding from the first round, to make an Android version of Zombie Outbreak Simulator. My application was successful (thanks Screen Australia!) and I received $30k of funding just before the end of 2013. I hired two people to help me, and we released ZOS for Android in November 2014.

However, also in late 2013 there was a change of government, and at the new government’s first budget in May 2014 they decided to cut the remaining $10m left in the games fund. I still received my funding that had already been committed, but no new games could apply for funding.

In June 2015 a senate inquiry into the games industry was commissioned, and in April 2016 the inquiry released its report recommending the games fund be reinstated. The government is supposed to respond to senate inquiries within three months, but instead it took 642 days, publishing its response a few days ago. The response rejected the recommendation to reinstate games funding. Australian game developers were less than pleased… :|

A lot of other people have written great responses to the decision, but I thought I’d take a different angle. Most articles I’ve seen go along the lines of “wouldn’t it be great if the government supported games?”. I’m instead going to write “the government did support my game, and it was great” :)

As I mentioned, back in 2013-2014 the government gave me $30k to make ZOS for Android. Was this a good deal for Australia?

Firstly, out of the $30k I received, $21k went straight back into the Australian economy to Australian employees and contractors. I hired two people (creating two jobs), and two contractors (marketing and legal advice). The government received some of their money straight back from me in income tax on those two employees, and the contractors would have paid their own tax too. However the other $9k did go overseas to Facebook in Ireland, spent on Facebook ads for the game when it was released.

Zombie Outbreak Simulator was first released on iOS way back in 2012. The Android version was based on the iOS version, but much improved with the help of the funding I received. Across both iOS and Android, ZOS has recently reached over two million downloads, with over 1.5 million of those on Android.

And here’s how sales have gone for ZOS over the last nearly 6 years:

ZOS on Android alone has earned $185k. In October 2016 I released an update to ZOS for iOS which ported across all of the new stuff built for ZOS for Android, resulting in a marked increase in sales. Since then ZOS for iOS has earned $55k. In March 2016 I also added rewarded video ads to the game, which have earned an extra $40k. All up, that’s $280k that the game has earned so far, off the initial funding of $30k. Almost a 10x return!

Although my tax return isn’t due for another few months yet :), once I submit it I will have paid well over $30k in tax back to the government on the profit made from Zombie Outbreak Simulator. So although the funding I received was a non-repayable grant (all amounts less than $50k were offered as grants, larger amounts were loans), the government has received its money back in full and more. So that’s a win for Australia! :)

Also, only approx $10k of this income was from players in Australia. That means around $270k of export income – new money now in the Australian economy from overseas. Another win for Australia! :)

What have I done with the money? I’ve spent some of it on various expenses – some boring ones like tax and accounting, some fun ones like supporting local game dev events as well as computers, phones and tablets for dev and testing, and some necessary ones like more marketing and revenue sharing. However I’ve saved up a decent chunk of it, and I’m now using that to fund the development of a new game – a zombie adventure game called Land of Hope and Gorey. I’ve hired an awesome team of five people, including four people here in Perth – Chris, Blake, Carly and Brian. That’s four new part-time jobs – a third win for Australia! ;)

Was $30k of funding all it took to get this result? No. ZOS for Android was based on games that Jay and I had been working on since 2009. Before ZOS for Android I’d put in over 2,500 hours of work and made a fantastic profit of $120, and Jay had put in over 1,800 hours too. I did another 700 hours of work on ZOS for Android and only paid myself $700 out of the funding I’d received. I didn’t just ask the government for a handout, I put a lot of my own time, effort and money into it too.

Is a $280k return on $30k of funding a typical result? No. Games are incredibly high risk, and most will fail. A handful of games will achieve modest success like ZOS, and an even smaller number will be fantastic breakout successes. To achieve a consistent outcome from game development requires a portfolio approach – developing lots of games, so that the successes pay for the failures. Individual game developers can’t afford to invest in tens of multiple games simultaneously, but who can? The government can :)

Would I have made ZOS for Android anyway, even without the funding? Probably – I had wanted to for some time, since players kept asking for it. However it definitely wouldn’t have been as good. The approx 10x increase in sales on iOS when I ported the Android features over to iOS shows how much better the Android version was – all due to the features I was able to afford to build because of the funding. So could the industry fund its own game development? Yes, and the industry has still been growing despite the lack of government support. However it could grow faster with support.

Although the federal government isn’t offering any support, what about state governments? Film Victoria has a very strong program of support for game developers. As a result 40% of Australian game developers are in Victoria, even though Victoria has 25% of the population of Australia. The South Australian government recently announced a $2m package of support for game development.

However Binary Space is based in Perth, Western Australia. In 2016 the WA Labor party offered support for the startup and gaming sector while seeking to be elected, but once elected their new industries fund announced in 2017 failed to mention game development. Screenwest is currently undertaking a review of screen industry funding, even though they have always had a policy of refusing funding to “computer games for entertainment purposes only”. Still, I know that Let’s Make Games and other local game developers have been talking with the government and Screenwest for some time about the merits of the games industry. So I’m hopeful that in time we’ll receive some recognition and support from our state government.

To finish up, I’m really grateful that ZOS was funded by Australia, and that this funding together with hard work and some luck meant that ZOS achieved some modest success. And I’m also really proud that through that success I’m able to fund a new game, for Australia! :D

cya!
Saxon

Zombie Outbreak Simulator Hits Two Million Downloads!

A few months ago Zombie Outbreak Simulator reached two million downloads on Android and iOS!

ZOS for iOS released in April 2012 has now reached over 500,000 downloads, and ZOS for Android released in November 2015 has now reached over 1.5 million downloads. To be exact, as of a few days ago on the 22nd of January it was 500,923 downloads on iOS and 1,584,981 downloads on Android for a total of 2,085,904.

Many thanks to everyone who has downloaded the game!

cya,
Saxon

 

Land of Hope and Gorey Preview at the Perth Games Festival

In May last year I announced that I was working on a new zombie game. I then spent the next 6 months hiring an awesome team to make that happen. Chris came on board as concept artist in June, then we announced that we were making a zombie adventure game and Jonathan joined as writer/designer and Blake joined as programmer/designer in August. In addition to concept art Chris took on 2D art for the new game, Carly joined as 3D artist in October, and Brian joined as music composer and sound designer in November.

As the team came together we began working on the new game – starting with a bunch of random ideas and prototypes to figure out what the game could be. We settled on the name for the new game – Land of Hope and Gorey – and came up with the overall concept.

After the UK suffers a self-inflicted apocalypse, Hope Andrews crosses an undead-infested land with her new BFF — a zombie called Dave.

We set ourselves the goal to have a demo to show at the 2017 Perth Games Festival (PGF) which was to be held on the 25th of November. The PGF is a local event held each year in Perth (where most of us are based), where a bunch of local indie game developers show off their work to over 1,800 visitors across the day.

Around October we switched from prototyping to focus on building the demo for PGF. For a while there I wasn’t sure if we’d make it, but it ended up coming together just in time, with the final build put together at midnight the night before PGF. I was really thrilled with the amazing job that the team did in making the demo that we showed at PGF!

It was really cool to see people playing the game at PGF, with many people playing right through to the end of the approx 15 minute demo. In hindsight the demo was probably a bit too long, as we often had people waiting to have a go even with two laptops running the game. We also got heaps of really great feedback – many thanks to everyone who played!

On our stand we had a third screen with a demo showreel showing a few videos of the game, as well as some of Chris’s concept art, so people could get an idea of what the game was about while they walked by. If you’d like a sneak peek of Land of Hope and Gorey, here’s the video. We didn’t have any audio on this preview when we were showing it at the PGF, so I’ve just overlaid a couple of tracks of the music that Brian made for the demo. Keep in mind that this is a very very early preview of the game – there’s a lot that we’ll be changing!

Thanks also to Brendan from GameCloud who interviewed me at the PGF – you can see his Land of Hope and Gorey interview on GameCloud for some extra details about the game.

Since PGF we’ve been working on the first act/level for the game, which builds on what we showed at the PGF. We’ve kept a few things we liked and thrown out a bunch of things we didn’t :)

We’re going to start posting more stuff about the game during development, so if you’d like to keep an eye on progress follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. There’s also a mailing list you can sign up to at the Land of Hope and Gorey page, if that’s your thing.

cya!
Saxon

Welcome Brian Fairbanks

A quick post to welcome Brian Fairbanks to Binary Space!

Brian started a couple of weeks ago following our search for a sound designer and music composer.

Brian has created sound and music for a bunch of games and other projects, as well as recently starting his own audio-driven and vision-impaired-accessible game, Lost and Hound.

You can see (and hear!) more about Brian on his website, his Twitter account, or his other Twitter account.

cya!
Saxon

Looking to hire a Music Composer for a Zombie Adventure Game

I’ve spent the last eight years working on Class 3 Outbreak and Zombie Outbreak Simulator. These games have over 1.8 million downloads on Android/iOS, and on the web have been played over 9 million times by over 3 million people. I announced a few months ago that I’m starting a brand new zombie game.

We already have Jonathan as writer/designer, Chris and Carly as artists, and Blake as programmer/designer. We are now looking to hire a Music Composer to help bring the game to life.

We are creating a zombie adventure game, reminiscent of the old-school adventure games like Monkey Island and Space Quest IV that I played and loved back in the early 90s. There’ll be zombie-smashing action, but also just as much emphasis on a great story, solving puzzles, and humour.

 

I am looking for someone who can compose all of the music for the game. This includes coming up with a consistent overall feel for the music, while tailoring it to the theme of each section of the game.

I expect this role will be part-time, and/or in your spare-time around something else – but I’m open to whatever works for you. We are also looking for a sound designer – maybe you’d be interested in both roles?

I am based in Perth, Western Australia, however the position is open to anyone in the world – you can work remotely. In the past Binary Space has worked with people in Adelaide, Melbourne and the UK – all thousands of kilometres away.

If you’re interested, please send me an email at jobs@binaryspacegames.com with the following:

  • Links to some examples online of your best work. If you have a portfolio of several projects, point out a couple that you are most proud of, or that you think are most relevant to this new zombie game.
  • Your resume (in PDF format – or a link if you have it online).
  • In your email, describe why you’re interested in this position.

I encourage people from any background or experience level to apply. You’ll need to have created something before to be able to show some examples of your work as mentioned above, but it doesn’t need to be commercial experience. You just need to be awesome! :)

Thanks!
Saxon

Update 7th Nov: Thanks everyone who has applied! We received 38 applications for this and the sound designer positions – 17 combination sound designers / music composers, 17 composers, and 4 sound designers. This position is now filled.

Looking to hire a Sound Designer for a Zombie Adventure Game

I’ve spent the last eight years working on Class 3 Outbreak and Zombie Outbreak Simulator. These games have over 1.8 million downloads on Android/iOS, and on the web have been played over 9 million times by over 3 million people. I announced a few months ago that I’m starting a brand new zombie game.

We already have Jonathan as writer/designer, Chris and Carly as artists, and Blake as programmer/designer. We are now looking to hire a Sound Designer to help bring the game to life.

We are creating a zombie adventure game, reminiscent of the old-school adventure games like Monkey Island and Space Quest IV that I played and loved back in the early 90s. There’ll be zombie-smashing action, but also just as much emphasis on a great story, solving puzzles, and humour.

 

I am looking for someone who can take charge of all the sound requirements for the game. This includes designing the overall tone and feel of the game audio, and either sourcing or creating sound effects as required.

I expect this role will be part-time, and/or in your spare-time around something else – but I’m open to whatever works for you. We are also looking for a music composer – maybe you’d be interested in both roles?

I am based in Perth, Western Australia, however the position is open to anyone in the world – you can work remotely. In the past Binary Space has worked with people in Adelaide, Melbourne and the UK – all thousands of kilometres away.

If you’re interested, please send me an email at jobs@binaryspacegames.com with the following:

  • Links to some examples online of your best work. If you have a portfolio of several projects, point out a couple that you are most proud of, or that you think are most relevant to this new zombie game.
  • Your resume (in PDF format – or a link if you have it online).
  • In your email, describe why you’re interested in this position.

I encourage people from any background or experience level to apply. You’ll need to have created something before to be able to show some examples of your work as mentioned above, but it doesn’t need to be commercial experience. You just need to be awesome! :)

Thanks!
Saxon

Update 7th Nov: Thanks everyone who has applied! We received 38 applications for this and the music composer positions – 17 combination sound designers / music composers, 17 composers, and 4 sound designers. This position is now filled.

Welcome Carly McGowan

I’m posting to welcome Carly McGowan to Binary Space!

Carly joined a few weeks ago for a short project to make some test 3D models, as we work out the art pipeline for the new game. We’ve decided to continue using 3D models for our characters, and so Carly has now officially joined the team as a 3D artist.

Here’s a small sample of some of Carly’s work from before Binary Space:

You can see more of Carly’s work on her website or Twitter.

cya!
Saxon

Welcome Blake Simpson

A quick post to welcome Blake Simpson to Binary Space!

Blake started at Binary Space this week as programmer and game designer for our new zombie game, following our search for a designer.

Blake has been developing games since 2010. He was lead programmer on over 20 titles for SK Games, including Bush Bash which featured half a car as the controller, and Catnips where the controllers were cats! He’s created a bunch of his own projects too.

You can see more about Blake on Twitter or his website.

cya!
Saxon

Welcome Jonathan Howard

A quick post to welcome Jonathan Howard to Binary Space!

Jonathan started at Binary Space this week as writer and game designer for our new zombie game, following our search for a writer and designer.

Jonathan has worked as a game developer since the early 90s, including as a writer and designer for the first three Broken Sword games: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror, and Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon.

Since 2008 Jonathan has also written eight novels including the Johannes Cabal, Russalka Chronicles, and Carter & Lovecraft series, as well as a heap of other stuff!

You can see more about Jonathan on Amazon, his website or Twitter.

cya!
Saxon

Looking to Hire a Writer for a Zombie Adventure Game

I’ve spent the last eight years working on Class 3 Outbreak and Zombie Outbreak Simulator. These games have over 1.8 million downloads on Android/iOS, and on the web have been played over 9 million times by over 3 million people. I announced recently that I’m starting a brand new zombie game.

We’re now looking to hire a writer to join the core creative team who will create this new game.

The game will be a zombie adventure game, reminiscent of the old-school adventure games like Monkey Island and Space Quest IV that I played and loved back in the early 90s. There’ll be zombie-smashing action, but also just as much emphasis on a great story, solving puzzles, and humour.

 

We already have Chris on board as concept artist, and we are now looking for you the writer and a game designer to fill out the core creative team. This is the very start of this game, and so together with the team you will have full creative control to make the game you want to make. We want to bring something new to the zombie genre, rather than the same old thing that’s been done to death. You should be a fan of zombies – so you’ll know what makes zombies great, and also what’s been done so many times before that it’s time to do something else. We’ll discuss our current ideas for the game in more detail during the interview process, so you can get a better feel for whether this is the right project for you.

This role can be full-time, part-time, and/or in your spare-time around something else – I’m open to whatever works for you. We are also looking for a game designer – maybe you’d be interested in both roles? You might also have other skills that you’d bring to the team – like programming, artwork, music, other?

 

I am based in Perth, Western Australia, however the position is open to anyone in the world – you can work remotely. In the past Binary Space has worked with people in Adelaide, Melbourne and the UK – all thousands of kilometres away.

If you’re interested, please send me an email at jobs@binaryspacegames.com with the following:

  • Links to some examples online of your best work. If you have a portfolio of several projects, point out a couple that you are most proud of, or that you think are most relevant to this new zombie game.
  • Your resume (in PDF format – or a link if you have it online).
  • In your email, describe why you’re interested in this position.

 

I encourage people from any background or experience level to apply. You’ll need to have created something before to be able to show some examples of your work as mentioned above, but it doesn’t need to be commercial experience. If you’ve created games before that’s great, but other kinds of interactive fiction can also work. I’m also open to hear from people with other writing backgrounds like film, TV, theatre, novels, short stories, or anything else. You just need to be awesome! :)

Thanks!
Saxon

Update 4th August: Thanks everyone who has applied! We received 79 applications for this and the game designer positions – 31 designers, 29 writers, and 19 combination designer/writers. We are now interviewing the top candidates, and so applications for these positions are now closed.