Archive for the ‘Thrust Or Bust’ Category

Whither Prior Games?

posted by Duke
Nov 11

Today I wanted to talk a bit about my plan for my back catalog of games. It’s great to have a history of games, but sometimes measures must be taken to reduce costs and consolidate brand power. If you are a fan of Smiling Cat games, please read as the below may affect how you enjoy those games. My players are important. If you will be negatively impacted, please comment and let me know.


  • EARL’s Warehouse and possibly Chroma Invader to get free Windows releases.
  • Retiring from Kongregate and GameJolt coterminous with these Windows releases.
  • Thrust or Bust and Snowflake support to be discontinued at that time as well (and Chroma Invader invader if it does not get a Windows release).
  • Considering Dropping iOS support.

Web Player Games

Unity Web Player died long ago, a casualty in the war against insecure browser plugin technologies. Unfortunately, I have 4 games that I have released exclusively on the Unity Web Player platform (ordered by how awesome I think the game is):

  1. EARL’s Warehouse
  2. Chroma Invader
  3. Thrust or Bust
  4. Snowflake

EARL’s Warehouse is a project that I’m particularly proud of. This game has a lot going for it, both gameplay-wise with its interesting puzzle mechanics, and technically with its home-rolled voxel engine that actually performs well in Unity. EARL’s Warehouse also highlights what was so awesome about the Unity Web Player’s performance – in some areas (the penultimate level of The Depot specifically) it was pushing over 1 million triangles per frame, through a web browser, in 2013.

Chroma Invader Screenshot 6Chroma Invader was a quick project that was my take on the quarter-eating days of the early “wave progression” arcade games. This was my second game, and it was the first game of mine to earn any sort of recognition, picking up “Browser Pick of the Week” honors from the now-defunct site back in December of 2010.

Thrust or Bust will always hold a special place in my heart as my first game release, back when my doe-y eyed dumb ass thought that all I had to do was build it and they would come. Its flaws are apparent to me today, but it was a very ambitious first effort, much larger than it should have been for my first game.

Snowflake was kind of a psuedo-jam game, created over a long holiday weekend. If you haven’t played it, don’t bother; it’s not particularly good by any measure.

I have Windows builds of all of these games except Snowflake. My current thinking is to release the Windows build of EARL’s Warehouse as a free download in the run-up to the release of Dehoarder 2. I’m not entirely sure about Chroma Invader, but I might release the Windows build of that game, too. Unless there is someone who really MUST have Thrust Or Bust, though, I was going to retire that title. Forget about Snowflake, it is being retired; it would be too much effort to bring the project from what was probably Unity 2 all the way up to Unity 2017 just to create a new build of what I consistently rank as my worst game.

In addition to these Unity Web Player exclusive titles, I also have Unity Web Player versions of my first 4 Ludum Dare entries (Dehoarder, City Beneath the Surface, Dirty Fork, and Werepenguin’s Escape). These have always been available as downloads for Windows, so I have much less concern there.

Most/all browsers now refuse to load Unity Web Player unless you hold your mouth a certain way, if even that. Given that, I think that my game pages on Kongregate and GameJolt aren’t doing anyone much good any more. When the Windows releases of EARL’s Warehouse and Chroma Invader are made available, I will be retiring all Unity Web Player content from Kongregate and GameJolt.

If I have any Mac/Linux users who are still enjoying these games on Kongregate or GameJolt, I want to hear from you! Unless I know that there is some demand for Mac/Linux builds of my current Unity Web Player content, I won’t feel that it is worth my limited time to target these platforms.

Mobile Games

Currently I have 3 titles available on mobile:

Vintage Pachinko
Breaking Block
Prepare for Warp

My biggest problem overall on mobile is iOS. With the release of 64-bit, I do not have 64-bit builds of any of these games anywhere near ready. These titles were all created in the days of Unity 4, so they are several versions behind, and I know at the very least that Vintage Pachinko requires some effort to work with the newest version of Unity. In addition, as someone who lives primarily in the Windows world, developing for iOS is a huge pain. It requires me to maintain a separate Mac computer, which never gets turned on unless I’m creating a iOS build of an app, which means that it always needs hours and hours of updates and upgrades before I can even start being productive.

Prepare for Warp was delisted by Apple earlier this year seemingly because it simply hadn’t had an update in a long time. It didn’t have a history of crashes or any complaints that I received, but I got a nastygram all the same that said update or else without outlining anything that specifically needed to be updated. I’m not happy about that, but nor am I going to create updates for the hell of it when I have nothing of value to deliver, especially for my least popular mobile title. That’s insanity. Breaking Block is probably next.

Also weighing heavily is the fact that iOS sales are not even covering the developer program fee at this point. We’re far enough down the long tail of these titles that the revenue is approaching zero. They were never making me rich, but at least they used to pay to keep themselves going and then a bit more.

Because of issues like these and the distraction that they create for my current development, I’m seriously considering pulling out of the iOS market entirely, though I haven’t come to a final decision on that yet. If I don’t pull out of iOS, I will require a few weeks away from Dehoarder 2 in order to update my entire catalog in one big push. Hearing from those of you who want to continue to see these apps on iOS will certainly sway my decision. My final decision will probably be made in February when my annual tribute of $99 to Apple is due.

If I do let my Developer Program subscription lapse, the net effect is that my apps would no longer be available for download through the AppStore, but would continue to function on devices on which they were already installed.

I have no complaints about the Android environment, and as long as they continue to make my life easy I will maintain the Android/Play Store versions of these apps.

Full Steam Ahead with Dehoarder 2

Of course, my immediate future platform-wise lies with Steam. Dehoarder 2 at the very least will be on Steam, and probably several project after that. The future is difficult to predict, however, as the above clean-up plan shows.

Speaking of Dehoarder 2, I just received the latest batch of models from Arvex, and will be working today to integrate them into the game. With this latest delivery, we have just one more batch to go, and then I think the object set for the game’s release can be finalized.

Thrust or Bust has been released on Kongregate, and the promised updates to Chroma Invader and Snowflake are complete as well. If you haven’t already, please play and rate all three games on Kongregate. I have added convenient links to the Kongregate versions of the games in the sidebar of this site.

My Google Adwords campaign is also up and running (albeit clunkily, I think I need some SEO on my landing pages), so you may start seeing ads for Thrust or Bust or for the Good Gaming Initiative out in the wild.

I hope Thrust or Bust is well-received on Kongregate. I’m looking forward to seeing what badges they create for the game.

For the rest of today, I’ll be checking in on the stats of Thrust or Bust, of course. I also will be hard at work on the Dungeon’s Fortune project.

Thrust or Bust will be coming to Kongregate on Saturday, March 3rd, at 8:00am EST. At that time, Chroma Invader and Snowflake will be updated as well. Later that day, my Google AdWords campaigns should be up and running.

Once Thrust or Bust is released, I will post the link to the new Kongregate version, and will be removing links to all old versions, including the downloadable version.

Hope to see everyone posting their high scores next Saturday!

Some of you may have noticed that my flagship game, Thrust or Bust, is not yet on Kongregate in any form (Web or Challenge edition). There is a very good reason why that is so: I wanted to give Thrust or Bust a few enhancements before relaunching it on Kongregate.

The Web and downloadable Challenge editions of Thrust or Bust will be combined into a single package with two gameplay modes. In addition, Thrust or Bust will be the first Smiling Cat game to be integrated with Kongregate’s API, which will allow high scores to be tracked directly on the Kongregate site, as well as opening up the possibility of Kongregate Badge Achievements. Some other enhancements are going in, too, such as some changes to the music, volume/mute controls, and streaming loading. I am looking to apply some of these changes to Chroma Invader and Snowflake as well.

I hope to have this work done within a couple of weeks, and plan to put together a modest marketing campaign to coincide with the re-release of this great game. I will post further updates as release plans firm up.

Thrust Or Bust LogoThrust or Bust Bonus Level 2 Screenshot
It has been one year since the release of my first game, Thrust or Bust. I want more people to play this great game, so, I am re-releasing it as a free download. I recently just got back into playing this game myself, and it is still a lot of fun. Please download, and feel free to distribute to your friends and family.

Game Information and System Requirements

May 14

We’re still alive and kicking, not much activity lately because there is not much to report. Work is continuing, albeit at a reduced pace. The main project I have been working on is a sim-style game, and I am trying to design it from the ground up to be both mobile and desktop compatible. I first alluded to this project last summer. I have taken the prototype that I created then, and am now laying the foundations for the real thing. I am hoping to be able to release this game as free-to-play, as well as researching tie-ins with social media.
It has been six months since Thrust Or Bust Challenge Edition was released, so in celebration, I am cutting the price by 50%. I just played this game a few days ago, admittedly for the first time in a couple of months, and I still think it is a good game. I had trouble putting it back down again. I think I’ve decided my favorite levels are Stormforest Path and Gigabit Plains, though if I were to redesign the game, I might make Stormforest less maze-like.
Of course, the Web Edition of the game remains free-to-play. Please check out both editions of the game, I think you will be quite pleased.
I am still hoping for inspiration for the further arcade-style titles that I promised. If I start working on anything like that, I will post an update about it.

We Hear You!

posted by Duke
Nov 16

This past weekend was a rather eventful one for Smiling Cat. Soon after the official release of Thrust or Bust Challenge Edition, a friend and former co-worker of mine submitted a post on Reddit, which took on a life of its own for a while. If you missed it, you can check it out now. The feedback ranged from praise to profanity, from profound to petty.

Thank you to everyone that provided useful, actionable feedback about the game. You are being listened to, and I am doing everything within my power to incorporate your suggestions into my current and future plans for Smiling Cat. I will share with you some highlights about what this will mean for Smiling Cat in the near future.

One message that I heard loud and clear was that many of you want your indie games for free, especially the first few offerings from a new developer. In light of this, I will continue to move forward with my current plans to release several games under the web-based, ad-supported, free-to-play model. It will probably be quite some time until Smiling Cat undertakes another retail release.

To this end, the release of Chroma Invader is only weeks away. Hopefully, I can get the logistics of my ad-supported model worked out in time to release the game before Christmas. After that, I am planning on undertaking several more smaller-scale projects, hopefully releasing a new game every month or two.

Despite the move away from retail releases, I stand behind the quality and playability of Thrust or Bust Challenge Edition, and it will remain supported and on sale in the Smiling Cat Store as a premium offering for those who like Smiling Cat games enough to want to take the experience off-line.

One request that I get a LOT is to provide games on mobile platforms, such as iPhone and Android. I would love to do this at some point in the future. In order to do so, though, Smiling Cat needs to make a considerable investment in hardware and software, especially on the iOS side, in order to do this type of development. So, mobile plans will unfortunately have to wait until Smiling Cat has the necessary capital to invest.

Also, it is clear that Smiling Cat has outgrown its current minimalist web site design. Over the coming weeks, I will be looking to roll out a new version of the site, hopefully one that will be easier to maintain and more appealing to view.

Please look forward to all of the upcoming developments here at Smiling Cat!

The big release date has finally arrived. Thrust or Bust Challenge Edition is now available in the Smiling Cat Store. Be sure to buy your copy before November 30 to take advantage of the 20% introductory discount.

Everything is falling into place as planned for the November 13 release of Thrust or Bust Challenge Edition, so I’m now going to call the November 13 release date a firm date. Today, the Release Candidate build of the game was created, so my testers will be giving the game a final once-over to make sure that there are no latent problems with the game. Hope to see you all in the Smiling Cat Store on November 13!

So far, the feedback for Thrust or Bust Web Edition has been positive and encouraging. Thanks to all of the wonderful folks over at the Unity Community forums,
as well as to all of our family and friends that are getting the word out about Thrust or Bust. I’m really excited about and looking forward to the release of Challenge Edition. It’s great to see everything coming together after so much hard work. Speaking of the release of Challenge Edition, right now I am targeting a release date of November 13. That gives me 21 days to tie up all loose ends and get everything sorted and ready.