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Hey guys, I’ve got a lot of thoughts about the EBF Discord that I’d like to share.

For those of you who don’t know, the EBF Discord is a bunch of chatrooms where you can talk about EBF, gaming, fanart, and almost anything else. I set it up 2 years ago, and since then the number of members has gradually increased to over 11,000. Only a small portion of those users are regularly active, but it’s still a lot of users, and the server is experiencing some growing pains lately.

The server is moderated by volunteers from regular users. They’re people who already spend a lot of time on the server, and I trust them to help keep it clean.

Originally I wanted to have quite relaxed rules: Keep it PG13. You can swear, but not too much. You can poke fun at people, but not too much. You can talk in all caps, but not too much. Etc. Bans would mainly be reserved for obvious trolls and spam bots. Minor offences would be sorted out by the community without mods getting involved. Common sense would prevail, I hoped. And this worked fine while the server was quite small and managable. But enforcing those sort of loose rules became near impossible as the server grew – it’s unfeasible for mods to keep track of which users are breaking a “reasonable” amount of rules, and which ones are going too far.

Context matters, but it’s also a pain to take into account. In normal interactions, friends can trash talk each other without any ill will. They can call each other rude names, and it’s harmless. However, that’s nearly impossible to moderate in a busy chatroom, unless you read a few walls of text of history between the users. So gradually we’ve had to get stricter and cut down on the banter. You can’t trashtalk other users anymore – even mildly – because it’s impossible to tell at a glance if it’s harmless, or if it’s part of a long series of bullying comments.

Additionally, there’s a lot of trouble makers intentionally trying to see how far they can push the rules, which really forces me and the mods to think about where we should draw different lines. And I don’t like drawing lines, because real social interactions don’t work like that. But I guess when you’re managing a large group of people you really have to keep the rules as simple as possible and you can’t leave any grey areas.

One tough question we have is: Questioning the mods’ decisions should be allowed, but how pushy can you be about it before it’s not allowed anymore? When do reasonable disagreements turn into feuds? Into arguments? And it makes things even harder when you consider that different mods have different levels of sensitivity to arguments, and may be stricter on some days than others. Stricter on more annoying users than on well behaved ones. It’s really hard to keep things fair.

I don’t like that Discord currently has no “temporary ban” feature. All bans are permanent unless manually reversed. I believe that temporary bans would be a convenient solution to these “grey area” offences. A user would know they went to far, but also know that they’re still welcome back in a month or so.

At the moment we have some general-purpose channels on the server, where you can talk about just about anything. These obviously cause a lot of problems – because everyone has a different opinion about everything, and some people always have to be right! Keeping the server strictly to discussions about my games would keep things simpler. There would be much less disagreement – if you’re on the server you obviously share that hobby with everyone! But it would be quite restrictive, which is a bit of a shame. And a “you can talk about other things, but not for too long” rule would be really hard to enforce.

The server previously had a “spam” channel, where you could post whatever low quality content you wanted, images included, as long as it’s still PG13. A lot of users liked that, and so did I. But moderating it was too difficult – it moved incredibly fast, and deciding which images should be allowed was a nightmare. Is a dead rat too far? Is flag burning allowed? Can Hitler make an appearance? The spam channel had to go. That amount of fun was a step too far.

I’m a big advocate for freedom of speech online and all that. I grew up on Newgrounds and 4chan. But it’s much easier to avoid things you don’t like on forums and image boards. Everyone’s practically anonymous, and nothing is personal. There’s many different discussion threads to choose from.

A chatroom feels so much more claustrophobic. Everyone is trapped closer together – for months and maybe years! You can’t have a conversation while simply ignoring the people you don’t like. Users get to know each other, and some of them just can’t get along. Personalities clash. And every time they do we have to make the rules stricter to stop it from happening again.

I just can’t figure out a good balance between fun and safety.
It really sucks.

But so that we don’t end on a downer, I’d like to say that the EBF Discord has been great for me interacting with fans and getting feedback on my work. The regular users really appreciate the community, and a lot of cool fan projects have came out of it, such as game mods, translation fixes, and fan art. I guess it’s got those things going for it.

So here’s some questions for you, dear readers:
If you’ve visited the EBF server, what did you think of the level of moderation?
Should we even bother with general-purpose channels, or just keep the server strictly EBF related?
What should a ban review process for lesser offences look like? When should banned users be allowed back?
If you’re part of other Discord servers, what features do they have that you like?

Please discuss.

Epic Battle Fantasy 1 came out on Newgrounds exactly 10 years ago!
Ronja surprised me with this fan-collaboration that her and Phyrnna organised. Huge thanks to everyone who participated!



Full Credits:
Phyrnna: www.phyrnna.com/
Troisnyx: troisnyx.newgrounds.com/
Ronja: twitter.com/ronjaew
Char: twitter.com/ContestCharlie

Hey guys, here’s an EBF4 remix with some artwork.

In other news… the EBF fanart competition on Newgrounds will be over in a few days, so if you wanted to take part in that, now’s your last chance.


Hey guys, here’s 4 foes that I strongly considered using in EBF5.
They don’t win anything, but I’d like to share them with ya’ll, since they’re pretty cool.

The main issue with these is that I just couldn’t imagine them being as interesting to fight as the other foes I picked. Some really unique attack sprites could have helped.

My main consideration when picking winners was “Do I really want to animate this?”, and usually that means the design has to feel really fresh, and be something that I wish I had thought of. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for until I see it, I suppose.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a lot of fun with their pixel art, and thanks for participating. I’ll probably keep playing around with the retro style in future.

Poss by Silkmoth

1 (1) by KupoGames

Goblin by Alan900900900

Goblin Man by KupoGames

Shroom by Ploomutoo

Shroom by KupoGames

Frog by Matvey

Foe Competition by KupoGames



 

Hey guys, me and Tom Fulp from Newgrounds.com have teamed up to do a fanart and music remix competition!
Here’s Tom’s post about it:

May 1st is the 10 Year Anniversary of Epic Battle Fantasy on Newgrounds and Epic Battle Fantasy 5 recently released on Steam. To celebrate the occasion, we’re hosting a fan art and music remix contest here on NG!

To participate in the art contest, create Epic Battle Fantasy fan art, tag it with “Epic-Battle-Fantasy” and upload it to the Newgrounds Art Portal by May 1st.

To participate in the music contest, remix any of the songs from the Epic Battle Fantasy series 2-5 (when Phyrnna was making the music), tag it “Epic-Battle-Fantasy” and upload it to the Audio Portal by May 1st.

Entries will be judged by Matt, Phyrnna, Ronja, and the NG office.

The ten best fan arts and three best music remixes will receive Steam keys (Windows only) for EBF5, EBF4, Bullet Heaven 2 and the EBF5 soundtrack.

Tom doesn’t mention it in his post, but generally in contests like this you have to make art/music specifically for the contest – otherwise we’d have hundreds of submissions from earlier! So please don’t enter anything made before today!

You can read the original post here.

Also, you should post your work on Newgrounds anyway – it’s a cool site and I want it to make a comeback!

Maxresdefault by KupoGames


Hey guys, here’s a long blog about game-dev related stress.

Since around November when Epic Battle Fantasy 5 was approaching completion, I’ve been incredibly stressed about it. It’s actually likely I was stressed long before that, but just worked through it and didn’t notice too much until then. The worst has passed, but even now, 3 months after a very successful launch, the game is still causing me a lot of anxiety. I’ve never felt this way about other games that I’ve made. It’s hard to write about because it sounds weird to say it – nothing even went wrong! – but I’ll try to organise my thoughts and figure out why I feel this way.

EBF5 was by far my largest project, taking up 3 years of full time work, without any major breaks. My previous largest project was EBF4, which maybe took around 1.5 years, but I worked on it on-and-off. It’s definitely not healthy to work on a single project for so long. I’m financially secure (largely from EBF4 doing very well for many years), so I didn’t need any funding to make EBF5, and if it flopped completely I’d still be fine financially. However, it would have still been a major bummer to spend 3 years making a game that no one was interested in playing. I was fairly confident that EBF5 would be a success – just based on the huge number of people that were following its development – but there’s always that nagging feeling that something might go completely wrong before I finish it.

EBF5 was the first game I’ve made specifically for Steam, with the browser version being more of an afterthought. That put a lot of pressure on me to make sure it’s a game worth paying for, and so that no one can say “well, the previous games were free, why do I have to pay for this one?” I know people don’t take kindly to sequels that don’t have at least as much content as the previous game, so I had to make sure the new game was bigger AND better by just about every metric possible, while also trying out some new ideas. It’s hard to please everyone, but I think it’s worth trying. Keeping old fans is way easier than finding new ones.

I like to batch my work and complete each part before moving onto the next. For example, I spent around a month just drawing trees and rocks and other background stuff. Debugging took almost 2 whole months. I did most of the art assets before any coding, so the game was half finished before I even had a playable prototype done! This approach worked efficiently in my previous games, but this time I just ended up doing the same kind of work for too long at a time, and it became really monotonous and demotivating. Maybe I should have taken turns working on different parts of the game, or maybe that would have made development take even longer. It’s definitely going to be a while before I commit to spending more than a year on a project again. A lot of people may say “just don’t work so hard!”, but I’d never get the game finished if I didn’t! Progressing slowly is even more demotivating than being overworked! 

The weeks leading up to the launch were the worst. I set myself a deadline because I didn’t want to go over 3 years of development time, wanted to launch before a bunch of major AAA games, and I was getting seriously diminishing returns from debugging and polishing by that point. I had 2 weeks to fix a few major bugs that turned out to be more complicated than I thought. Deadlines are no fun, but continuing to work on the game instead of launching may have been even more soul-crushing. Things got really emotional, and my whole life revolved around finishing the game. I just had to get it done, even if it wasn’t perfect.

My girlfriend Ronja was a lot of help around launch time. She helped me test the game, and did a lot of customer support, while I was stressing out with debugging. I’ve now hired her to keep doing that, and also to do some social media posts for me. However, it turns out it’s not so easy to hire someone! I had to waste a few days learning about all the relevant laws, and doing tax paperwork. In the long term it’ll reduce my workload and be worth it, but it was a painful transition! I can totally see why many people are opposed to government regulation, or may even illegally dodge taxes. It’s just such a thankless and tedious task to do this stuff correctly!

I always liked to think of game development as a hobby, even when I started making money from it. I’m just some guy working at a computer, from his home, whenever he feels like it. I only have to do the bare minimum paperwork to keep the tax man happy. That approach isn’t really working for me anymore – I’ve got an employee now, my tax situation is getting more complicated, and I’m generally not prepared on the business side of things. I’m starting to feel the weight of new responsibilities that I never wanted. Being your girlfriend’s boss is also a weird dynamic to explore. There will be some growing pains, but I’ll do some studying, hire an accountant, and get over it eventually. What a first-world problem – I’m too successful!

Another issue I’ve been having lately is that I’m spending more and more time dealing with people. There’s many volunteers helping me out, either with moderating the EBF Discord server, writing wikis, helping with translations, or sending in fanart. I’m incredibly thankful that people want to help out in all sorts of ways. However, sometimes this means that I have to sort out disputes and arguments, especially on Discord, and I often don’t know the best way to deal with them. I’m neither their boss nor their friend – I don’t really know what our relationship is – and that makes things quite awkward sometimes. I feel I’ve gotten worse at dealing with this as I’ve gotten older and more mature. In my late teens and early twenties, I wasn’t as sensitive to other people’s feelings as I am now. Especially on the internet, I would often reply bluntly to comments, or ignore many of them completely. I’ve always done my best to read all the comments I receive, but I never really thought of them as being made by real people. Everyone online was just an anonymous user. The internet is a bit more personal these days, so that’s harder to do. I’m still trying to figure out how to be nice to my fans without getting too close to them.

Finally, Adobe Flash being a sinking ship isn’t helping me. I was and still am fairly confident that Flash is viable as a game development tool for me personally – maybe not for the web anymore, but for desktop and mobile games, it still does the job. But being one of the last people defending Flash is not a good place to be in mentally. Most of the developers I know have moved on, and I feel like I’m some old guy who’s been left behind by the rest of the world. Adobe’s lack of transparency isn’t helping either – it’s not really clear how dedicated they are to keeping the technology alive, but I’m not optimistic. (Flash is not dead in 2020 – that’s only the browser plugin!)

Even now that EBF5 is launched and stable, every little update I need to do poses a risk of accidentally breaking something – maybe even deleting saved games! There’s a lot at stake, and I’m still terrified of making a major mistake, even though my fans have always been forgiving. I’ve done my best to mitigate all the risks, but there’s always a chance.

So this might have been a bit of a bummer to read. Launching EBF5 brought me more stress than joy, even though it went incredibly well. I guess next time I’ll try to do things a bit differently, and I’m already starting with the EBF5 DLC – I’m only adding content that sounds like it will be fun to develop, and I’m not going to work so hard this time.

I’m not sure what I’ll work on after that though. I don’t want to jump into another huge project, and the thought of working on another EBF sequel fills me with dread. But at the same time, my career success is solely down to this series, so obviously a lot of my self-esteem is tied to it too. I think a lot of people would be let down if this was my final masterpiece, and personally I’m not sure if I’ll be satisfied with only making small games from now on. I guess there’s no winning either way. Achieving important things is not easy.

I’m not depressed or anything – it’s specifically just EBF5 and all the baggage associated with the series that’s causing me stress. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some sort of balance between what I want to work on and what others want me to do.

Hey guys, after using a Galaxy Note 2 for 6 whole years, I’ve just replaced the old dinosaur with a Note 8, and I’ve got mixed feelings about it. The specs are nice; internet browsing is fast, games run smoothly, and the camera looks good. But a lot of the hardware design decisions are really questionable! The main speaker is at the bottom of the phone, so when I’m playing games, it’s always covered by either my hand or my stomach. This wasn’t a problem with the Note 2, since the speaker was on the back of the phone. This seems like a major oversight to me!

I also feel scammed by the advertised 6.3 inch screen size. The Note 2 screen is 5.5 inches, so I’d figure it would be an upgrade, but it’s not! The Note 8 screen is just longer! Videos and games aren’t even designed for such a long screen! And some of the screen space is wasted on reflective curved edges. So if anything, the screen looks smaller than on my old phone! Questionable design indeed.

Annoying hardware aside, it’s nice to have a phone that doesn’t crash when I try to open basic apps like Google maps. I’m still happy I got a “flagship” phone, as it’s partly for market research. Speaking of which, I’m trying to play a lot of little indie games on it – the kind of stuff you’d see on Kongregate a few years ago. Looks like a lot of browser game devs have moved to mobile, and I’ve got some catching up to do. It’s a shame that the mobile market is poorly curated and saturated with garbage, so finding those gems will be tricky. Feel free to recommend some wholesome, non-exploitative games. So far I’m enjoying Super Dangerous Dungeons, Monument Valley, and Cat Bird. I was sceptical of on-screen keyboards, but they work okay if there’s only 3 buttons.

Also I’m really liking the EBF5 Foe Competition entries so far. I thought maybe the rules were too specific this time, but it looks like most people understand what I’m looking for.

Hey guys, it’s time for a second Epic Battle Fantasy 5 foe competition!

As you all should know by now, the game released on Steam a couple of months ago, but I’m still working on additional dungeons and secret areas. The first foe competition had artists submitting designs for enemies, and then I would animate them and put them into the game. The Voodoo Dolls, Haunted Mirrors, Fallen, and Bomber Cats were all created this way.

This foe competition is similar, but a little different. This time I’m looking strictly for old-school pixel-art. The final foe animations will look different from the usual EBF style, and because of this, I won’t need to redraw the art you submit, like I did in earlier competitions. Here’s an example of what your submission should look like:
Pixel Example by KupoGames

And here’s an example of how I will animate it:
Flash Version / YouTube Version


Requirements

• Art must be submitted in .PNG format, and must include a normal-sized and zoomed-in version, as shown above.

• Art must be your own work, and original. No recolored Sonics!

• Art must include several sprites (animation frames), usually including:
   2 alternating "idle" sprites, that will make the foe look like it’s walking or dancing on the spot.
   1 "hit" sprite, for when the foe takes damage or dies.
   1 or more "attack" poses, used during attack animations.
   "Skull" and "bone" particles, for the death animation.
   Any projectiles or accessories that may be needed.

• I can add any sprites that are missing, and may edit any that don’t work well. You can write a description of how you think your foe should be animated, if you wish. Animations don’t have to be like the ones shown in my example – I can animate completely different death and attack animations for new foes. So the sprites listed above are flexible guidelines.

• Sprites should be small. Mine are roughly 16×16 pixels, and I recommend staying under 50×50.

• You don’t need outlines for your foes, they will always appear on a black background.

• You don’t need to arrange your sprites in any particular way. It’s nice if you keep things compact, but I’ll be cutting the sprites out anyway. Canvas size doesn’t matter.

• I prefer creatures, not humans. But I won’t rule out humans completely if they’re creative.

• Winners will be chosen for creativity and uniqueness! I’ll be aiming to animate a huge diversity  of foes.


Ideas

The goal of this competition is to make retro-themed enemies that will remind players of earlier times. This is not essential, but I encourage you to base your art on that of early games consoles, like the NES, Atari, or SNES, taking into account their color and resolution limitations. You can cheat a little if you wish, or just make up your own pixel art style.

My designs are based on Zelda 1 monster sprites, with the battle background being in the style of Final Fantasy 3. You too should refer to old games that you like.

You should also consider what elements or status effects that your foes might use or be weak against, so that they fit nicely into the EBF battle mechanics. Try to design monster types that have not appeared in the game yet.

You can discuss this competition in the Foe-Competition channel on the EBF Discord.
I encourage people to share work-in-progress and pixel-art advice there.
Pixel Example 2 by KupoGames

Submission

Please post your finished art on either:
• Your DeviantArt (I’ll add it to my collections)
• The Newgrounds Art Portal (use the "ebf" tag)
• The Foe-Competition channel on Discord (type "finalArt" in your post so I can search for it)

Make sure it’s public and please send me a link to it. If you post it anywhere else there’s a risk it will get lost. If you can’t do that, you can email your art to me at kupo707 at hotmail.com.

You can submit as many designs as you want.


Prizes

You’ll get to see your art come to life in a popular game series!
You’ll have your name in the credits.
You’ll get 2 free copies of EBF5. (or my other games)


Legal Stuff

By submitting your art you agree that I can use it in Epic Battle Fantasy 5 and in any possible future games, on all platforms, forever (if you win the competition). I will not own your art and you can still use it in whatever way you like. You will not own any part of the EBF games and will not receive any compensation except for the prizes listed above.


Deadline

The Pixel Art Foe Competition will run for a few months. I’m not sure exactly how long, but I’ll end it when it looks like I’ve got enough designs to work with. Winners will be announced on my blogs as I animate each foe.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

Hey guys, I've update the free version of Epic Battle Fantasy 5 on my website. This means that that version is up to date and "finished" now. Not sure when it will come to other websites, but for now you can play it there, and there's been a lot of changes since it was in beta.

I've also updated the game on Steam, going right from version 1.2 to 1.5, so there's a lot of things that can go wrong, especially with the new saving system. Just so everyone knows: You have the option to stay on the old version if you wish. It might be worth a try if you encounter any major problems. You can go to Steam Client > EBF5 > Right Click > Properties > Betas > Select version 1.2.

Hey guys, with EBF5 launched, here’s a little road-map of what I plan to do next.

• Sometime this month I’ll release version 1.5 on Steam, which will include some minor bug fixes and balancing tweaks, and the Chinese New Year quest.

• I’m not in a hurry to publish the game on Newgrounds and Kongregate, as I’d like to rest for a while, and it doesn’t need the extra publicity at the moment. I’ll update the free version on my website though, so please yell at me if I haven’t done that by next month.

• I have a lot of new content planned for EBF5, which I’ll release in… I dunno, half a year or more? This includes 3 more optional dungeons and other secret stuff.

• I’ll probably pause my Patreon, as I don’t have anything to post there at the moment. But sometime later I’d like to add more perks, such as a section in EBF5′s Grand Gallery that lists long-time patrons.

• Once ALL of that is out of the way, I’d like to attempt a mobile port of EBF5. Running the game on mobile is no problem, it’s just a question of improving the performance and changing the user interface. I don’t know how it will turn out.

But anyway, I’ll be taking it easy this month and maybe next month too. The only work I’ll be doing is minor game updates, replying to user problems, and legal/accounting paperwork (woo, fun) such as officially hiring Ronja.

Hey guys, here’s my summary of important life events in 2018. Here we go…

• Scotland had the snowiest winter in about a decade. I was stranded at my parents’ house and built a huge snow fortress with my mum.

• Me and Ronja visited London for the EGX Rezzed expo, collected stickers, caught up with developer friends, and met a lot of new ones. The Imperial War and Modern Art museums were also cool. London’s so big that we can see new stuff every time we visit.

• Phyrnna visited Scotland, and we did a bunch of sight-seeing together, including a tour of the Tennent’s brewery. This was actually the first time we’ve met, and I think it went very well.

• I worked really hard on EBF5. At the start of the year, I was still working on dialogue and map objects, and the game was roughly 80% finished. The last 10% definitely took a long time, and I was getting very bored of working on it by now.

• I did arts classes in ceramics, mosaics and fused glass, with my mum and my brother. It was fun to do some creative stuff that wasn’t work, and to meet regular people who are just trying out new hobbies. I’m most proud of the glass cats I made.

• My first Dungeons and Dragons campaign concluded. My character Salazar Ratkin started a cult, created a race of rat-men, and eventually became their God. It was good fun but not something I’d like to do regularly, as it’s very time consuming.

• Me and Ronja’s house-hunt continued, and we were gradually looking at and bidding on nicer ones than when we started. It was a tough market for buyers.

• Dealing with solicitors, mortgages, and home-sellers caused a lot of stress. Everyone points fingers and blames someone else for delays. Paperwork sucks. Had to change solicitors because the first one seemed dishonest.

• But I finally bought a big comfy house in the Summer!

• Did a thorough cleaning of our old flat, and I gained a lot of experience there. I did a really good job on the oven.

• Me and Ronja exhibited EBF5 at the Play Expo in Glasgow. We got a free table, I prepared a simple battle demo, printed off some posters and cards, and brought my computer. It was a great experience and we met a huge variety of people – old and young. The game never crashed once!

• Scotland had the warmest summer in about a decade, with record-breaking temperatures. It was quite nice.

• We spent a lot of the summer working on the garden. Landscaping, extending the driveway, planting stuff, looking for new furniture, collecting tools, etc. Friends and family came over to help out. Using a pick-axe is a lot of fun, and a good workout.

• Lots of car problems this year. My break pipes, wheels, and car frame are all rusting away into oblivion. She’ll be an adult soon.

• Me and Ronja painted the attic. The low, cramped ceiling made it a challenge, but it looks much better now.

• My Patreon, Discord and YouTube all grew a lot this year. I’ve been having fun with these platforms, but managing so many people can be tricky, especially on Discord!

• In terms of news, everyone’s still talking about Trump and Brexit, and fun is being removed from the internet, with the EU banning memes, and content platforms discouraging anything that’s not safe for advertisers. Newgrounds is starting to make a comeback though.

• I sorted all of my Lego and have a big cupboard for it. I made a lot of pixel-art mosaics and other stuff.

• We lived quite cheaply this year, mostly just spending money on new furniture. I didn’t play much games, read less than last year, and watched very little TV. I’ll try to make room for more leisure time next year. This whole year was mostly focused on work and moving.

• My diet’s still improving, I’m eating very few snacks, and I’m gradually learning to make new types of food. Considering how long I spend in front of a desk, I’m quite happy with my health. Unhealthy days are now an occasional treat, as they should be.

• We decorated heavily for Halloween, with a lot of pumpkin carving. Almost 50 kids showed up at our house. Had a Halloween party two days later, with lots of pumpkin cooking.

• Bonfire night was also great, with many nearby households putting on huge firework shows – sometimes without much safety considerations.

• Tried out bingo, slot machines, and arcades for the first time, during a friend’s birthday night out. I can definitely see the appeal of gambling (for fun).

• I spent months on debugging and balancing EBF5, and set myself a 3-year deadline to finish it. Adding totally new languages was quite exciting, and while we did translations much more efficiently than on previous games, it was still a huge task. The weeks leading up to the launch were some of the most stressful in my life. Ronja helped out a lot with testing and customer support.

• The launch of EBF5 was incredibly successful. Most of the major bugs were fixed over the first two weeks, and the game sold well for the entire month of December. It’s already paid off its development costs. Success comes with responsibilities though, and it looks like I’ll be making updates, doing paperwork, and dealing with customers for a long time before I can completely relax.

• I don’t binge drink often, but this year I’ve had some of my heaviest drinking sessions ever. Being an independent adult gives you the freedom to drink til 5am, and hangover days are actually quite nice when you’re self employed and have no schedule.

• I got PS VR and spent much of the Christmas holidays trying it out with my family. Everyone likes it so far, and even my ancient dad is addicted to Astro Bot (great game btw). Ronja’s mum visited from Finland, and we feasted for 5 days straight.

I guess that about sums it up. My hope for 2019 is simply to work less, and to use the internet less. The rest of life is much more wholesome.

Happy new year in advance!

Collage18 by KupoGames


I'm doing a Christmas EBF5 Steam Key give-away!
Leave a short comment on my website to enter.
kupogames.com/2018/12/20/chris…

Hey guys, the Epic Battle Fantasy 5 launch has been an overwhelming success. And I mean it’s been really overwhelming. I’m stuck at the computer non-stop doing tech support and trying to make sure almost everyone can run the game correctly. There’s a lot of problems with my hacky implementation of Fullscreen, for example. Hopefully this will start calming down soon, and I’ll have more time to work on bug and translation fixes, and even some quality-of-life improvements.

Sales have been incredibly high so far. The discount coupons really helped remind everyone that I’m still alive and making games. Sure there’s a lot of problems, but only because a lot of people are playing. People love the game overall, but the occasional person is having tech issues. It looks like EBF5 will earn back it’s development costs pretty quickly, and I’m happy to start working on more content for the game once I’ve sorted out the launch issues, and had some time to rest. I’ve got a lot of fun ideas planned.

Thanks, everyone!
You’ve made this project worth doing.

The Steam version of EBF5 is out!

Compared to the free version (coming soon-ish), it adds 48 extra equips, 5 new dungeons, and 10 new bosses, including many of the hardest ones in the game. Other perks include HD graphics and audio, a choice of screen resolutions, and Steam features, like cards, achievements, and cloud saving!

Everyone who owns EBF4 on Steam will get a 20% discount coupon for EBF5. This needs to be launched by a human from Valve, so there might be some delay getting these out.

The coupons will be valid for a month, and after that I’ll release a Steam bundle of EBF4, EBF5, and Bullet Heaven 2. This bundle gives you 20% off if you “complete the set”. If you only own EBF4, for example, you can buy the other 2 games together for 20% off. This will be a permanent deal going forward, and it works in conjunction with other discounts.

I’ve prepared an EBF5 asset pack for YouTubers or reviewers, which includes different variations of the cover art, screenshots, game info, and in-game emoticons.

If you want to support Phyrnna directly, buying the EBF5 soundtrack on Bandcamp will give her a much bigger cut than she gets from Steam. It’s also available on most music platforms.

The EBF Discord is a good place to talk with other players, and to get help if you get stuck in the game. You can also report bugs and other problems there.

EBF5 officially only supports Windows, but Steam Play beta allows it to run normally on Linux (apparently), and the installation folder also includes the game’s Flash file and Flashplayers for different operating systems. So you can run it on a Mac or even on a mobile device with a bit of tinkering. (without Steam features though)

The free web version will be released once I’ve had a break from the Steam release. The beta will stay up on this website, but it’s already quite outdated and buggy compared to the Steam version. Saves between all versions will be compatible, and easily transferable with the save backup feature. Saves from the beta may have a few minor problems – such as permanently missing an equip or two if you save in the wrong place – so it’s better to start again.

Version 1.0 of EBF5 is live on Steam, for those with beta keys.
Last chance to find any major bugs.

People have asked what time the game will launch on Friday – and it depends!
It’s launched manually by me, so it may be quite early if I’m ready to go. The discount coupons are also launched manually, but by a Valve employee, so I don’t know when you’ll get those. Hopefully not long after launch!

People have also been asking what the price will be in different currencies, so here’s a full list:
$14.99, £11.49, 12,49€, CHF 15.50, 360 pуб., 53,99zł, R$ 28,99, ¥ 1,520, 103,00 kr, Rp 95 999, RM32.00, P389.95, S$14.50, ฿239.00, 165.000₫, ₩ 15,500, 25,00 TL, 229₴, Mex$ 154.99, CDN$ 17.49, A$ 21.50, NZ$ 18.49, ¥ 50, ₹ 459, CLP$ 6.400, S/.31.00, COL$ 25.000, R 105.00, HK$ 76.00, NT$ 268, 29.95 SR, 42.00 AED, ARS$ 179,99, ₪55.95, 2 400₸, 2.80 KD, 33.99 QR, ₡6.500, $U329
These prices are based on Valve’s recommendations, which change regularly, so don’t blame me if they’re a bit off.

Hey guys, I’m going to do a voice chat Question & Answer session on the EBF Discord, tomorrow (Thursday) at 8pm GMT. You can ask questions by text or by voice – we tried this last Thursday and it worked really well. It lasted over 2 hours and around 100 people tuned in to listen. Please try to come up with some interesting questions, and I’ll see you then!

Also EBF4 and BH2 are 75% off in the Autumn and Winter Steam sales!

Epic Battle Fantasy 5 will officially be released on Steam on November 30th!
(I reserve the right to delay it if anything catastrophic happens before then.)

The price is $15, and everyone who owns EBF4 will receive a coupon for 20% shortly after launch.
The free web version will probably be out sometime early 2019, whenever I’ve fully recovered from the Steam launch.

Please add it to your wishlist: store.steampowered.com/app/432…

(this blog looks better on my website)

Hey, since my new turn-based RPG, Epic Battle Fantasy 5, is 99% finished, I think this is a good time to write about the previous game in the series. I wrote a postmortem of Epic Battle Fantasy 4 back in 2013, and things were not looking so optimistic at the time.

—The Story so Far—

EBF4 was well-recieved by players and got very high scores on Flash game sites, and the premium content for the game sold quite well on Kongregate. However, even with millions of plays, the game didn’t have the same viral appeal that EBF3 had – and the biggest part of that was that the Flash game industry was rapidly shrinking. EBF4 paid off it’s development costs, but only due to lucky timing – if it had been released just a bit later, it would have had trouble getting sponsored, and may have flopped completely. I worked on EBF4 on and off for a few years, but the final development time was probably around a year of full-time work, and in the end it made $60K, which is decent for a software developer in a cheap city. Making another big game for Flash sites was no longer an option though.

Golems by KupoGames

While EBF4 was nearing the end of development, I started thinking about Steam. Games like Binding of Isaac and VVVVVV made me realise that good Flash games might be allowed on the platform. Luckily, Greenlight was announced around the same time, and it seemed like Steam was the way forward for the types of games I was making. But getting through Greenlight was incredibly hard at the time – initially your game would need over 50K votes or so, and only a handful of games were selected each month. EBF4 sat on Greenlight for a few months, and seeing that it was never going to get that many votes, I wrote the 1st postmortem, and decided I may be doomed to make lame mobile games, or some other career path. And now, some 5 or so years later, it’s time to continue the story…

—Preparing for Steam—

After 5 or 6 months, Valve started Greenlighting many more games than before, and EBF4 had a chance again! I immediately started working on new content for the Steam version of the game (which I also added to the paid Kongregate version), and EBF4 finally got through Greenlight, with around 15K votes. (For comparison, in the final days of Greenlight, all you needed was somewhere between 500 and 1K votes) Kongregate was a great sponsor, and they allowed me to link to Steam Greenlight in the web version of EBF4. I kept their logo on the Steam version, but they were not involved in it – I had no sponsor or publisher this time.

Steam was terrifying at first, since it was the first time I was publishing on a platform that wasn’t specifically designed for Flash games. It’s also very lonely, as you can go through the whole process of launching a game on Steam without ever talking to a human from Valve! I was worried I would not be able to implement all of the steam features – achievements, cloud saving, overlay, fullscreen modes, and trading cards. My time at University prepared me for situations like this – when you’re stuck on an assignment, you’re forced to talk to other students and to find out who’s better at it than you are, so you can get some help. I hunted down the developers of all the Flash games on Steam, and most of them were very happy to share their solutions with me. A huge thanks goes out to Alexey Abramenko, developer of Intrusion 2, who suggested I use MDM Zinc (basically a Flash projector) to package EBF4, and let me use his code for Steam achievements.

Preview by KupoGames

While I’m at it, I’d also like to thank Amanita Design, developers of Machinarium, for sharing their FRESteamworks ANE, which allows Adobe AIR to interface with Steam features. I later used Adobe AIR for other games I released on Steam, but it was no good for EBF4, since for some bizarre reason, Adobe decided to remove the LOW and MEDIUM stage quality options, which would have drastically damaged the game’s performance. (I eventually found a workaround for this, and will be using Adobe AIR for EBF5)  Anyway, MDM Zinc worked very well for a couple of years – it got my little Flash game running on and interfacing with Steam. But in the end the company closed down and stopped all support for it, and I’m no longer able to update EBF4 on Steam unless I update it to use Adobe AIR instead, and I don’t have a huge desire to revisit old work.

In the end the only Steam feature I couldn’t get working was the Steam overlay! It turns out this is because regular Flash content isn’t hardware accelerated, and the overlay cannot appear if the GPU is not active. The FRESteamworks ANE has a handy workaround for this problem – it creates a single off-screen hardware-accelerated sprite, which allows the overlay to be updated. Oh well, I found out about that a bit late.

—Time to Launch—

Anyway, onto the Steam release! I expected a lot of pushback from Steam users that are angry about Flash games showing up on Steam, but there was only a few of those, and the game was incredibly well recieved, with a review score of 98% positive for almost its entire lifetime.

There’s definitely a lot to criticise about EBF4 – it runs traditional Flash content with vector graphics, which even if programmed perfectly, would take up a lot of CPU resources. But there’s also a major memory leak in the game on top of that! I limited the game’s resolution to a max of only 720p, because I know most users would go as high as possible and then be surprised at how badly the game runs. The game was never designed to be played in widescreen, so the aspect ratio is an awkward 4:3. (apparently I was one of the last people with 4:3 monitors, and thought this was still normal)

Cutscene by KupoGames

I’m going to speculate here about why I think EBF4 got past these issues. First of all, I think I was very honest on the store page about what the game was offering. The trailer is just standard-definition footage from the game. Anyone who is expecting technical brilliance or mature-looking graphics, would instantly back away from the game. But more than that, I think the vast majority of people who bought the game were fans of the series from the good old Flash days – my art style hasn’t changed in 10 years, and anyone who’s played my games or seen my animations on Newgrounds or Armor Games will recognise them instantly. With EBF3 alone having over 20 million plays across the web, there was bound to be a lot of Steam users who had played the earlier games on Flash sites before finding EBF4 on Steam. Maybe nostalgia for Flash games is a real thing now.

But Flash does have some unique advantages. For one, it’s incredibly compatible – no matter what your hardware is, it will most likely run on it, even if it doesn’t run well. Only a small handful of players had trouble running the game at all. It’s also very easy to decompile Flash games, which most would consider a weakness, but this turned into a very helpful tool for hobbyists who create wiki pages, and some players would even find bugs in my code for me! Unofficial Chinese and Russian translations were even made! (EBF4 was actually the first game I localised into different languages, and here’s a blog I wrote about that.)

Maybe the game would have been more successful if it was made in a modern engine, but in my opinion, the risks and costs or learning a new engine and rebuilding the game would have outweighed any potential benefits. Working with Flash allows me to limit scope-creep, because I can’t get carried away with fancy graphics or new features, and I am able to guarantee that I will finish my games, no matter what. (unless I’m killed) I prefer to jump straight into prototypes and development, rather than thoroughly learning new tech, so I’m still not in a hurry to ditch Flash, even in 2019. I might be the last guy still using it for Steam games.

—Big Sales—

The opening day was strong – EBF4 got into the top 20 bestselling Steam games for a few hours! But after a few days, things began to settle down, and I thought that was it. I was used to the Flash game lifespan, where games only get major attention for a week or two, and then fade away after that. I was not expecting the long sales tale that would follow. But even so, the sales so far were just barely enough to make the extra content and Steam launch worthwhile.

I got lot of emails from game bundles, asking me to take part in them. I was an inexperienced Steam dev, but even at the time I knew it was not a good sign to send your game into the bargain bin a few months after launch. (though the game was over a year old in my view, if you include the web version, so maybe…?) I picked carefully and chose a very small and obscure bundle group, called Blink Bundle, (I don’t think they exist anymore) and EBF4 sold 5K copies there. It was a nice little introduction to bundles – it didn’t result in any user engagement, and didn’t change anything in the long term, as far as I could tell. But I did panic a bit, and swore not to bundle the game again unless sales had completely dried up, or I was approached by Humble Bundle.

Some time in its first year on Steam, EBF4 was featured in a flash sale (anyone still remember those?) and this was possibly the most exciting day of my game dev career. I got news in the morning that it was featured, and went out hiking for the day. When I got back and checked the sales stats, I thought they were broken, because the graph was just a backwards “L” shape. I can’t be too specific about the numbers, but the sale had quadrupled the number of Steam owners so far, and that allowed EBF4 to get enough traction to start getting picked up by Steam’s recommendation algorithms. (getting over 500 reviews is a major milestone for the algorithms) That’s also when I decided I could actually make EBF5 someday!

In 2016, sales of EBF4 were starting to wind down. But then Steam introduced the discovery update, which introduced smarter game recommendations, and made it easier for players to find niche products. Top selling games were featured less prominently than before, and much more indie games were promoted throughout the store – if that’s what a user was interested in. Since then, EBF4′s day-to-day sales have remained strong and fairly constant, only decreasing slightly over time. There have been a few occasions when Steam’s algorithms decided to stop promoting the game, and sales would drop by up to half, but luckily these have all been temporary – so far. Most indie games really are at the mercy of Steam’s algorithms and policies, which are changing often.

At the start of 2017, Humble Bundle approached me to include EBF4 in their Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle, along with some very well known games like Shantae and N++. The results were as good as I could have hoped for – huge sales and very low customer engagement. Around 135K people bought EBF4, only 90K bothered to activate it, only a fraction of those played it, and just a handful actually left reviews. Those new reviews averaged to around 75% positive, so it’s good that there wasn’t enough of those to damage my overall score very much. It goes to show you the dangers of showing your game to a much less invested audience.

Clipboard011 by KupoGames

Thanks to the bundle, and to Brexit for plummeting the value of British currency, that turned into my best financial year ever. I hadn’t even published any games that year, so it’s funny how things sometimes turn out. Game dev sometimes feels more like a lottery than a job.

EBF4 still has no critic reviews on Metacritic, and has never been covered by a major YouTuber or gaming news site. I’ve never paid for any advertisements. I had no marketting plan, I just made free web games for 5 years, (they were still very profitable) and it looks like many of the kids who played them are now adults who want to support me.

—Conclusion—

As of now, EBF4 has sold around 255K copies across all platforms, with around 140K of those being from bundles. It ended up earning many times more than the initial web version! It’s also worth noting that 75% of the game is still available for free online – I do wonder how a free Steam version would have affected the numbers?

To this day EBF4 is still selling around 7 or 8 copies on an average day, and a lot more during seasonal Steam sales. 5 years after it launched on Steam, it’s still covering my living expenses. Thanks to this I was able to work full time on EBF5 for 3 whole years! (but not without stress of course, as income like that could stop without warning if Steam decides to change something. I’ve recently started a Patreon as an emergency source of income) (I’d also like to mention that my living expenses are only £15K per year – with an unstable income like game dev, you gotta save a lot)

I think it would be a miracle if EBF5 saw the same success as EBF4 did. (even though development time was more than double…) With some luck, maybe it will come close. I’m definitely more prepared this time, as this will be my 4th game on Steam, and based on various social media stats, there’s around 10K people following EBF5′s development. I’ll also be sending out discount coupons to everyone who owns EBF4 on Steam, which should make for some good marketting, and I’m planning to release a free web version of EBF5 on the usual Flash sites, some time after the Steam release.

We’ll see how it goes.

Slimes by KupoGames

So now that Summer is over, I can do a write up of my gardening adventures.
We recently bought a house, which while in very good condition, had a very plain and low maintenance garden. In particular, there’s a 25sqm area that’s simply covered in gravel. I would prefer to have grass, so dogs can run around. It can’t be that hard to remove the gravel by hand and lay down some grass, right?

Well, the top layer of gravel was quite useful, and I reused some of it in other parts of the garden, and gave a few car-fulls of it to my mum, who used it in her garden. The problem was that under the gravel was a much thicker layer of useless concrete and rubble. That took many digging sessions to get rid of – and around 15 trips to the dump in my medium sized car. In the end I excavated 6 or 7 tonnes of rubble with just a shovel, pickaxe and some buckets. It definitely would have been worth hiring some professional equipment for that… but at least it was good exercise.

Back Garden by KupoGames

Once the rubble was gone, I finally reached the topsoil, but there was a final challenge. The soil was full of buried chunks of fences, bricks, and slabs! I had to go through it all with the pickaxe and pull out even more rubble. On the bright side, some of the slabs were complete, and I used them to build flower beds later! I didn’t get to plant the grass this year, but the area is almost ready so that I can plant it in Spring. I didn’t expect grass would be so much work. I invited some friends and family over, and we had a little planting session in the corner of that area.

In another part of the garden, we wanted to get rid of some grass and build flower beds along the fence, as this would make for a great view from the patio and rear windows. My mum cloned many of her plants for us, and Ronja helped with the planting and layout. The problem this time is that the grass didn’t want to die, and started growing back a few weeks later. That project is still a work in progress, and we’ll see how many of the plants survive…

Front Garden by KupoGames

We also extended the driveway a bit to look a bit more aesthetic, and so that it can potentially fit in an extra car. Whoever originally laid the driveway slabs got a bit lazy and didn’t put them all the way along the fence, so we cut some slabs into triangles and filled in the gaps. It seems like a simple job, but if you don’t flatten the ground underneath, they can wobble or break when you step on them, and one of ours cracked through the middle. Also at 70KG each, slabs are surprisingly heavy and make for a good workout.

I got some old decorative garden furniture from my mum, scraped the old flaky paint off, and spray painted it black. The intricate design made this a huge pain. I didn’t manage to get all the old paint off, so I’m sure the new layer won’t last that long now. But for now it makes for a really nice decoration in front of the house.

Anyway, that about covers everything. This was all very new to me, as I haven’t done much gardening in the past. I learned a lot in the process, and also got much fitter. It was satisfying how little money we spent on all that – mostly on a few essential tools and compost. Most of the plants and materials were recycled, either from my parents’ garden or from Gumtree. It just took a lot of hard, dirty work.

Garden Me by KupoGames


Hey guys, this is an announcement to say that I’m closing applications for translator roles, and we’re starting to work on the translations. If you’ve been selected, you’ll have recieved an email and been invited to Google Docs by now. I’m sorry I can’t reply to you all individually – I got almost 200 emails.

But even if you haven’t been selected to translate directly, you can still contribute to the translation effort on the EBF Discord. We’ll be discussing translation issues on there. I’ve also made a list of everyone who emailed me, so if anyone drops out, or we need more help, I may invite more people.

Big thanks to everyone who emailed me, and please wish us luck! It’s going to be a big project…