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26 August 2019

BreakHack postmortem

by Linus Probert

So, I’m done adding features to BreakHack. I had a blast making the game and updating it. Since money was never the real goal when releasing the game I was never really concerned with purchases and major followings of the game. I just wanted to make it.

However, if I’d had plans on earning some money through my game then here is a list of things that I could have done better. I’ll give you the short list and then explain each point in it’s own time.

Patience and play testers

I was pretty excited to get my game up on steam. I was also rather short on time so I really wanted to get things done and uploaded during my summer holiday when I had the time to work on those sorts of things. Since I was a single dev there was only me to test my game and critique my own game. This is probably not something you want to do if you’re working alone. Unless you are certain that you are an authority on the type of game you are making you should really get some experienced players with in your genre to try out your game.

They will tell you what they liked, what they hated and what could have been better. It’s hard to do this on your own since you’ll most likely have project blindness and won’t really be thinking outside your own box.

Testers might also stumble upon bugs that you missed because they naturally test things that you don’t. However, finding testers isn’t easy if you don’t have a pool of friends or a major following on any type of social media. I don’t have any suggestions on solving this. Perhaps google around a bit or check what other indie games have done.

Once you do get a “Steam store page” or anything similar up, this will generate some PR for your game. Perhaps this is a good source for beta testers?

In my case I really wanted to release my game so I pushed it out as it was. This generated a lot of feedback on my game from people testing and playing it. This feedback led to a rather quick but large patch to the game which changed a lot of core features for the better and also added a massive amount of additional content.

However, the biggest influx you will ever get to your games page is when it’s first posted on the steam store and on the day you make the official release. If people don’t get hooked then it doesn’t matter how cool your game is 2 months later, those visitors have already come and gone. Most will never return. We’ve seen this in many AAA titles in the past too.

Almost a year after I first released the game I created the page This page should have been done during my initial release of the game. It’s a good way of keeping people interested in my game. This was an additional point where I should have just calmed down and released the game when I and some play testers agreed that it was ready.

TL;DR You’re game has to be interesting and fun from day one

Beta testers

This one is rather obvious. But you need beta testers. I had one which was great but two or three more couldn’t have hurt. Players who don’t know the code will try other things that you won’t. If you’re lucky they will break stuff so that you can fix those issues before release.

I didn’t get many issues in the bug department after release but I feel that I might have been able to earn some additional feedback through some additional testers. Different people different ideas so to speak.

General installation confirmation

This was my biggest error. If you’re using steam or any other platform. Make sure that your stuff works properly on all available platforms. My main mistake was the linux release. It worked for me when I tested it but apparently I was using a developer “build” for the linux release. The actual linux release didn’t contain any files to download.

Only one person posted an issue about this which made me aware of the issue and allowed me to fix it. The other I guess just refunded the game and said nothing. And I can’t blame them. It’s not their job to make sure that my shit works. I’m just really thankful to the guy who actually put in the extra time to make me aware of the problem.

Also, if you are releasing a linux version. If you are using a “compile to binary” language (eg. C/C++). Make sure that you build your release version on a dist that is the default supported dist on the platform that you are releasing on. This is easy to do through vagrant or virtualbox if you’re not running it as your dev environment.


I don’t have much ideas here really since it was never a priority for me. I did notice however that upon setting up my steam store page I did get a lot of traffic to it. If you are committed to your project I don’t think it’s a bad idea setting this page up quite a lot earlier then you actually plan to release the game. Once you do you need to be active on the page, updating at regular intervals and posting the work you’re doing to ensure people that progress is being made and that there is stuff to look forward to. However I think it’s a fine balance. Don’t set it up too early either. I think the waiting time to release has to be somewhat reasonable to keep people from gaining an interest and coming back for more information. There are people who are better at this then I am. Just google a bit.

Final thoughts

In my case I did earn my initial investment into steam back. Eg. I got my $100 back. This was my only goal really. However, I think I might have actually earned some money if the game was first released in it’s current state rather then incrementally improving it over a years time.

I’m happy to have a game on steam which was always my goal. But I could have had a slightly more popular game on steam if I hadn’t been in such a hurry.

// Liq

tags: gamedev - breakhack - postmortem