Monday, February 27, 2017

Potato Thriller Updates + Steam Sale



     Hello everyone. Potato Thriller has recently been updated with many new improvements as well as new hidden content. Also, to celebrate the start of my recent new Steam GreenLight campaign for my upcoming game Samer Hills - Potato Thriller is currently on sale for 55% off on Steam. Limited time only.

For a full list and more detail on the update check out the latest news announcement for Potato Thriller here: Potato Thriller News Update

or visit the steam store game page here: http://store.steampowered.com/potatothriller

Thank you.

As an indie game developer I absolutely love creating interactive experiences. I work hard to constantly improve and create better and better games each time. This may come as a surprise to some of you who have played Potato Thriller, but quality and originality are two of the most important things to me believe it or not. When it comes to games, it has always been about creating something fun. Something people can get a good laugh out of. Most of all, being different. Not creating games about collecting pages, surviving x amount of nights or killing waves of zombies. But, creating something different. Of course I understand that my games may not be appealing for everyone. However, the purpose is to offer something for those of you looking for something different.

To the Potato Thriller community, people who played any of my games, left any form of feedback or criticism, visited my developer blog, talked to me on twitter, reached out to me, etc. I would just like to give the warmest thank you to all of you for all the support you have given me as a game developer. Thank you so much for your interest and inputs. You are all awesome.

More news and updates to follow.

-Samer Khatib (Snowconesolid Productions)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Samer Hills On Steam GreenLight!

     Here it is everyone. My second ever Steam GreenLight campaign for my newest and next upcoming game, "Samer Hills" 

(A game shamelessly named after me, the developer. Feel that big ego)

Samer Hills is a post-apocalyptic thriller about a man who decides to return home after being away for nine years to finish what he started...

Steam GreenLight Page Over Here: http://steamcommunity.com/greenlight/samerhills

Trailer:



Plans, Thoughts, Release Date, Misc Info:
      I have been talking and posting about this new game project since late 2016 but never really wen't too in depth about it (don't worry, i'm not about to.) I have been constantly sharing development progress, screenshots and more behind the scenes stuff  here on the blog and twitter but never anything really about the final product or what to expect. The trailer above is really the first thing that does this. This is the first footage of gameplay, some characters are introduced and maybe you could get a good feel of the atmosphere and types of settings that can be expected from the game. 

     There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the game. However, after months of development I finally feel like I have a sufficient amount of content created to showcase on Steam and to run my next GreenLight. This is essentially only an introduction and the first step of many that lay ahead. With that said, there is no set release date. But this game is planned for this year, 2017. Keep in mind that I am just one guy after all and there are some days that I just can't spend on developing the game. Just being honest, but I am working really hard on this project and I plan on delivering a really unique experience (said every other indie ever...) Jokes aside, I am really proud of what I have created here so far and I am really proud of the trailer I put together to demonstrate some of the game. I am really excited about this one and having a great time creating it. I truly do look forward to finishing the game and sharing with the world. 

I am always active online and will continue to keep you guys updated on the project. Also, this is kind of off topic, but I am working on transitioning to posting video updates instead of just here on the blog (no one likes reading)

So more updates to follow down the road. YouTube vlogs as well as other miscellaneous none related videos all coming to the channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/snowconesolid 

Friday, February 17, 2017

My (evolved) Logo. A story about Snowconesolid.

     Over the years as an independent game developer I have been constantly re-inventing myself over and over again. Improving my skill sets, learning how to create better quality graphics, mechanics and games and maturing as a developer. I created many different things over the years. Some forgotten,  some buried deep within my computers hard-drive among hundreds of unorganized folders and some stored in some of my older (completely broken) computer hard-drives, lost forever. Data and source files I created that will never be seen again.....

However, throughout alllllll these years there is one thing that has been with me since the beginning.... (Not of time, beginning of my journey into becoming a game developer that is)

      There is one thing that has appeared in nearly all my works. There is one stupid piece of art that I refuse to ever discard. One very important stupid piece of art that I am building everything around. I use this as my signature for my works. A way, for people to easily identify who the source is. A way for people to know that, "SAMER F****** KHATIB CREATED THIS!" 
(Whoah, calm down man, you're ego is showing again)

A stupid piece of art that is heavily associated with me. I IDENTIFY AS THIS STUPID PIECE OF ART!!!!

I'm talking of course about, my logo......
(Or mascot, icon, branding, etc, whatever the hell it is people call it. All those words are the same thing.)

Maybe you have seen it before.
(You probably have not, i'm not as famous as I think I am.) 
You know? That purple-blue-greyish cat/snail like thing?
(Honestly, I don't even know. After all these years, I still have no idea what it is or what I should call it....)




Yah! That one! Image above. That one right there!

     As a young boy I.....
(Wait, hang on a second.....)
As a young man I...
(Yeah, that sounds much better. Okay back to story time.)

     As a young man I mindlessly came up with this strange cat-like creature (now it looks more like a mouse to me). Sitting in my room at my desk with nothing but a wrinkled used piece of scrap paper and literally only 3 odd colored crayons (purple, blue, grey) at my finger tips, the start of something beautiful was about to happen. (I must of been really bored lol) I looked down at the paper after 5 minuets of random doodling and the Snowconesolid mascot was born. This "piece of art" was created with no purpose, no inspiration, no reference, no thought whatsoever. I looked down at the piece of paper and my response wasn't "what the hell is this?" but instead, my response was "woah! this looks pretty cool!"  

     When we are younger, we aren't as critical on ourselves or towards others. We don't look for the flaws in anything. As younger people, we just see things for what they are and how they appear and simply just accept them. It's easier to find enjoyment in even the simplest things at a younger age. This is why I loved it so much. The crappy stupid drawing. It was unique, original. It wasn't trying to be good art. It wasn't a planned idea that I just had to draw out. It wasn't trying to be anything else other than a silly little doodle on notebook paper. It was mine. It was me. It represented me. A person who enjoys to create things just for the hell of it. 

     I use to always draw as a kid. I still have hundreds of crappy childhood drawings all saved up in a plastic folder somewhere in my basement in a box that is probably full of cobwebs and dead spiders now. Even today, I often sketch on paper that is just sitting next to me. I have been drawing all my life. I enjoy drawing. It's a creative outlet and i'm sure millions of people would agree with this statement. So, out of all the doodles and so called "works of art"  I have made, why did I choose that weird purple mouse-like creature to represent me as an independent game developer? Because of the story behind it. The deeper meaning (oh no, he's getting all hipster again). Because of the reasons  I mentioned above. It's simple. It represents how much I truly do love creating things. Anything from sketches, to 3d models, to full games. Heck, even if a chef gave me a blob of beef to play with, I would probably just attempt to sculpt something out of it. (Okay, weird example). 

     I'm not the greatest artist. But that's the thing with art. You don't have to be. Anyone and everyone can be and already is an artist! Everything is art! (WARNING: Engaging full on hipster mode!)

     Anyway, back on topic. My mascot/logo thing is something that has been with me since I first started learning about creating games many many years ago.. As I mature and evolve as a person and game developer, so does my icon. I'd like to take a look back real quick and show how much this simple sketch has changed over the years...

INTRODUCING: The Evolution Of "Cat-Mouse-Slug-Creature" Thing! (Snowconesolid Mascot)

The Original! Born on used notebook paper... 
What a monstrosity... seriously...


The First 3D Version!
That is scary as hell now that I look back at this! This was also one of my first 3d models. So don't judge me. I was a total noobie...


The NEW 3D Version!
Now with even more polygons actual texturing. This was made a couple years after the one above. When I started to get better with 3d modeling.


The First Official Splash Screen!
Before, I would often place a 3d model of the mascot at the start of the game. But it looked off because it's just this 3d model floating around in the players face. Made no sense at all. So I decided, it's time to make an actual splash screen. Using the 3d model, I was able to create this 2d image of the mascot that gave it more defined lines and a more cartoon-ish look. The black outlines made it easier to look at. 

The Fuzzy-Washed-Out-Look!
This is the modern day version of the mascot I typically use now. It takes the cartoon-ish/child-like look from the previous one and makes it look a little older. More mature. It has a darker shadow behind it, washed out colors and a fuzzy border emitting from all around it. This version looks more edgy and cool. This version looks rock-n-roll.


The Corporate Look!
The mascot is now in black and white to give it more of a "serious" "corporate" style. The mascot's head is only visible now. From the eyes to the ears. The text only says "SnowConeSolid Productions" now. Instead of  "A Samer Khatib Game (Snowconesolid)


The Separate Colors Corporate Look!
The 3 main (and only) colors from the original mascot are separated now. I just thought it might be a cool idea?


And now, finally. After years of evolution. Years of re-inventing...
My final, sleekest, most professional looking version of the splash screen...

The Static Screen Look!
A very cinematic presentation. Simple black and white color scheme. Nice subtle shadow around the head of the mascot. Text has a nice dark outline. The center piece is layered on top of an animated static screen representing the player looking into their own TV or PC screen (or any screen really). The corners fade darker as they surround the edges of the screen (vignette) driving the users attention to the main logo....

I am personally very proud of this new version of my splash screen and love how it came out. Think I spent a little too much time on a splash screen even. But it was well worth it. My end goal was to create a more professional looking logo. One that's eye catchy, clean and recognizable. Something that somewhat stands out compared to other boring black and white splash screens. It's very me and fits my style. Suits me well if I must say! I worked.... really hard on this.
Not bragging honestly! I just really like my own logo... I don't have a big ego! Please! Believe me!!! Why am I still typing in bold italics!?!

Also, I made different color variations which are also quite lovely to look at if I must say so myself!
SEE!












     And that, is how my logo came to be what it is today...

     I think this was probably the longest post I have ever written here on the blog. Maybe even pointless. But I just wanted to share my thoughts and personal story on the topic of icons/logos/mascots/branding (again all a bunch of words that mean the same thing.) 

If there is one thing that you could take away from this post (you don't have to listen to this advice of course) - Make sure there is some kind of story behind your logo. Some kind of deeper meaning to it. What makes it interesting? Why does your logo/mascot/brand/icon (why do I keep typing this!?) represent you?



Friday, February 10, 2017

Valve Killing Greenlight...


     Hello everyone. This is kind of a surprise post, but I just had to take the time to write about this news. If you are an indie game developer and plan on submitting your game to Steam GreenLight then you might want to hurry up and do so quickly. I am sure many developers using the platform or want to use the platform have heard the news already, but if you have not this is whats going on - Valve is shutting down Steam Greenlight for good.

Source - From Valve themselves:
http://steamcommunity.com/games/announcements/evolvingsteam

Almost every other major gaming site has also covered this already such as kotaku and Polygon
I am sure that many YouTubers will also probably discuss this soon enough as well.

Anyway, Valve is shutting down Steam Greenlight and plans to replace it with something called "Steam Direct". This will be the new program that indie developers will need to go through if they want to make their games available on the Steam platform. Valve didn't release much information on the new submission process and it seems that most of the plans aren't finalized yet but if you are an indie developer hoping to get onto the platform there could be some things to be worried about. For example, it only cost $100 dollars to sign up as a developer for Steam Greenlight. This was a one time submission fee that allowed you to submit as many games as you wanted. Steam Direct aims to remove this and it sounds like Valve will be charging a fee per submission. There is no official price setup for the new fee as of this writing. Valve will be sharing more information about the new process later on.


For more information and questions not answered in Valve's news update I recommend checking out this topic about the upcoming changes in the Greenlight community forums:

Changes coming to Steam Greenlight

According to this post, if you are a Greenlight developer and still have not submit anything, you may request a refund.

For those of you interested in submitting to Greenlight, there is still time and you can do so. If you get greenlit before the changes are made, then it's safe to say that you will be able to release your game on Steam without having to go through Steam Direct or paying another fee price. However, if your game is still hanging in Greenlight by the time Steam Direct takes over, then you will have to resubmit and possibly pay a fee based on the new on-boarding process.

indies worried....

     If you are an indie developer don't worry, you will still be able to bring your product to Steam even after Greenlight is taken down. However, if you are worried, it is understandable. Actually, after reading through the comments and seeing what other developers have to said expresses that many other small time indies are worried.  I personally am worried myself since I am an indie game developer who currently has been through Greenlight once already and planned on submitting more games through it in the future. Actually, I was planning my second Greenlight campaign for my next upcoming game. The game I have been talking about for months now here on the blog. This news about Greenlight shutting down has got me so worried, that I might even launch my next Greenlight campaign sometime next week hoping that it will get green-lit and reserve me a launch spot on Steam before the big changes happen. It might become harder to get on Steam's platform. I don't know yet. We will see. 

Once again, don't get too worried. Valve themselves still haven't really given any final answers on how the new changes will work, how much it will cost etc. In the meantime, it is probably best to submit your game to Greenlight before it's completely gone. 

This news isn't all bad. Valve is obviously doing this in the best interest of their customers and developers. This is a new way to add in some sort of new level of quality control. Steam Direct could mean less poorly designed, broken unfinished games and more quality content for people to buy. 

I will most likely be posting an update about my current game project within the next week or so.