Hi everyone! Thank you for all the support and interests in TPK. On October 15, 2019, our blog has officially merged with EQ Studios' main site. We will still be keeping this page, but newly blogged content won't be posted here. We apologize for the inconvenience, but believe it's a better move in the long run for our fans and us. Be sure to follow us and subscribe to our mailing lists for latest news, free newsletters, and development blogs on the links below!
It’s been over two years since The Painscreek Killings (TPK) launched on September 27, 2017. Prior to that, it took a little over five years to develop. Looking back, TPK struggled in development and failed in marketing, but sold about 40,000 units as of today and somehow was able to keep us afloat as a startup company. Was it all worth it? We would say yes. But that’s not what this article is only about.
What we hope through this postmortem is that we could share our experience from start to finish with those who are in the same boat as us - indie developers creating mystery investigation games using the walking simulator formula - to take what worked for us and hopefully avoid the pitfalls that we faced.
On January 21, 2019, eleven months after the initiation of The Johnson Files and three pre-alpha builds later, we have decided to return to the drawing board and reboot the project. Here's what happened and how we ended up with the decision.
The initiation of The Johnson Files
It was supposed to be a short development project, no longer than a year to pull off. The idea for it first started when we felt TPK needed a demo. After coming up with initial drafts for it, we deemed the process of making a separate game just for a demo time consuming with little return, so we abandoned the idea and decided to make the TPK's act 1 a complete playable demo. With the demo released on Steam shortly after and a possible game idea sitting on the side, we decided to develop it into a DLC. It was then that The Johnson Files was born.
It's been a few months since we posted our last blog, and that was before we released the Japanese localization of TPK. So what have we been doing since? Specifically, what have we been up to after releasing TPK? Quite a bit actually.
September 2017 - June 2018
The Painscreek Killings was released on September 27, 2017 and right after that, we realized one of the biggest problem players faced was falling-through-the-world issue. We tried to find out the reason but could not replicate the problem. We did narrow it down to a few possibilities. Nevertheless, it was a big issue and we decided to try and fix it. In doing so, we tackled game optimization, fixed the issue, and made the file size smaller, something which we were unable to pull off prior to the game's release. The good news is that our game can now be played even on computers with decent specs. The bad news is that it took us 9 months to make it happen. By then, we were told that our game was a 'dead product' from a marketing standpoint. Dead product or not, we did not want to give up on our game.
(A player's screenshot showing falling-through-the-world issue.)