February 21, 2017
And here we are. The most controversial and unexpected release of this year. Submachine Universe HD for free. This project started as an online exploration experience back in 2010, and now, almost seven years later transformed into a proper HD sort-of game. And it’s also twice as big as the initial release. And it’s still an open project with more expansions on the horizon. It is the last and only project in Adobe Flash that is still active in my workshop. You can enjoy it for free before it’s inevitable recreation in more current technology. So take a long stroll along empty corridors of the Submachine and try to find all locations, all secrets, read all theories and discover all red herrings. Though it doesn’t look like much, there’s a lot to do here. But most importantly: enjoy!
This article is a follow up to >this one<, in which I expressed moral and technical problems that emerged while creating a commercial, HD version of Submachine Universe. Go read that one if you haven’t, it’ll make this one more cohesive.
First of all – thank you guys for all your comments, opinions and suggestions on what I should do in this situation. You really helped me to see the way. That’s why I’m doing this the way I am. I don’t want to keep you in suspense, so here’s what will happen and I’ll delve into the details afterwards.
I’ll be releasing Submachine Universe HD for free, as a downloadable game for PC and Mac OS X. It’ll be available to download just as my newer games, created in Game Maker on my website.
– From that point on, the Subnet will be updated regularly with new content on that free HD, downloadable version. These expansions will also remain free of any charge.
– Current small-windowed, online browser version therefore becomes obsolete and will be removed. You lose ability to play it in the browser, but you gain so much more, believe me.
– If you still want to pay for it, then please hold on to your money and spend it once my Big Game hits Steam. That will be exponentially more valuable than buying the Subnet right now.
Ok, Mateusz, that’s all great, but… WHY?!
I hear you ask, and just hold on for a minute, I’ll explain everything. Well, maybe not everything, like the meaning of life (32), but I’ll try to shed some light on why am I going with a solution that wasn’t even on the table in that previous article.
– Firstly and most importantly the Subnet was created for fans and in part by fans. As much as I hate the word “fan” as it doesn’t apply most of the times, here it actually kind of does. I’m talking about people who like Submachine so much, that they spend time writing theories about it, draw their own machines, locations etc. Some of them even created 3D renderings and real life models of parts of Submachine. As I said before, I can’t imagine this project stripped of that user-generated content. It would be like ripping the heart out of it, and without it the Subnet is nothing more than bunch of empty rooms. All those people were making their contributions to the free version, and the only way to honor that is for the Subnet to remain free. As long as it is community-enhanced project, it has to stay free. So that settles the money issue right there.
– Secondly this move gets rid of the version multiplication problem. This one is more technical, but equally important to me. This solution allows me to keep the Subnet in just one version. No need for separate free, HD, enhanced, patreon-only or legacy builds. All reverted to the one and only free HD.
– Thirdly (thirdly?… Is there such a word?…) – let’s go back to your comments and suggestions. Most of you opted for the Steam solution, meaning recreating entire project in Game Maker and publishing it on Steam in due time. And I will, but that due time is probably several years from now, as I want to release my Big Game on Steam first, and then maybe go back to porting old stuff to it. And Steam version of Subnet will be drastically different from what we have now. That Steam version will have a price on it, so it probably will become a normal game, a large one, but stripped of user-generated content, rearranged and basically – completely new. But that’s ok, this current version of Subnet will remain free even then.
– Moreover, Steam version would mean abandoning current, Flash HD version. Which would be kind of sad, as I worked hard so it looks good. I just can’t toss it aside without sharing it with you. So once again, while selling it to you would be shady, I can share it for free without any problems. I know some of you have been waiting for that HD version for a long time, and now postponing it another couple years when it is actually ready to be released seems kind of heartbreaking.
So…When’s the release date?
So here it is. A clean solution to all problems. Seems too good to be true, right? But you guys deserve this to be free as, in part, you’re responsible for it as well. I’ll be releasing the HD Subnet right after I finish two more locations for you to discover, which are kind of half-done.
You can wait a bit longer, right?
See you later then.
Here’s the deal.
The Submachine Universe HD is actually ready and I’d be able to put it up in my shop even tomorrow. However, there are several non-development related problems with the idea of selling it.
Problem 1: Creation of parallel versions of the Submachine Universe.
The first and biggest hurdle is that such a release would create a net of parallel universes of Submachine. You see – all previous games I released were all done and finished. This one is not. It’s an open project, and I don’t mean it’s unfinished. It’s just open for future expansions, it always has been, it’s being expanded since 2010 up until this day. Yes, I changed something today in it. In it’s HD version, that is. The one that actually resides on my hard drive. I added main menu and in-game menu. You can control music, sound effects, window mode and so on. That’s because it’s fit to act like a standalone application. And here’s the issue. By releasing the HD version I’d be splitting the Subnet existence into two identities – the free online version, and the HD, paid version. Since I stepped away from flash, Subnet remains my only project that I still go back to in flash. I moved all other game design to Game Maker last year. This project is the only living reminiscence of previous era. But I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to maintain two different versions of it at once. You see, the online version differs from the HD version. Releasing the HD would have to mean abandonment of the free online. I’m not sure that’s what you guys would want.
Problem 2: Inevitable Steam version in the future.
Moreover, I feel that in time all Submachines will have to end up on Steam, which means they will have to be recreated in Game Maker (or some other, non-flash engine I’ll be sporting by then). That means a third version of it would be created. And by then, previous, flash versions of Subnet would have to be abandoned as well. You see where I’m going with this? Releasing the HD version now creates more problems down the way and also renders the free online version obsolete. The problem really is with it’s ability to expand. If it was jut a simple game – no problem there. I’d just create a legacy build of a finished game, release it and move on. But here, things are different. Creating new version means future expansions will be created on that new version, previous ones are obsolete. I feel, I’m repeating myself here, but that’s the most important issue I’m tackling here, that the online version would have to be abandoned.
Problem 3: Simultaneous selling and giving out for free doesn’t make sense.
Adding to that, I’d also have to leave behind my terrible, terrible politics of trying to sell you something, and at the same time giving it you for free. I explained that before, I felt like you guys deserved free versions of all Submachines from main story line up until the end of main series, just because that’s the way the series started. As free online. However, during those 10 years monetisation profile changed several times, but this philosophy haven’t. Up until Submachine 10, you can play all these games free online, even as that model doesn’t generate any income for me anymore whatsoever. But now? It would be completely idiotic for me to try to sell you Submachine Universe with all it’s free upcoming updates that can go on forever, and at the same time give it for free. Again, we’re back to the subject of it being an expandable project. I can’t give it for free anymore. Therefore, releasing the HD version would mean the end of free online. So I ask once again – are you guys ready for this? I’m not sure I am.
Problem 4: User generated content.
There’s also another problem. Submachine Universe utilizes content created not by me, but by fans of Submachine. I’m not sure whether they would find it fine for me to sell this project.
First and foremost I’m talking about Submachine theories, all written by players trying to get the hold of this whole Submachine mess. Besides theories, the project also has fans’ drawings, photographs, maps, schematics, 3D renderings and so on. So the question is: should I be allowed to sell all of this as a part of my game, or not? Should I remove all user-created content from it and replace with something I’ve written myself? That would be like ripping the heart out. Again, I’m torn on this. Need your opinion.
And here it is. All issues related to the release of Submachine Universe. There are several paths I can take from here, I’d like you to chime in and tell me what’s your thoughts on all of this.
What can I do:
And that’s all. As you can see the problem is a bit more complicated than one might think.
On the other hand, I might be overthinking all of this.
What do you think?
Let me know, the future of the Universe depends on it!
Ok people, let’s do this. I know it’s a bit late this year but there’s an explanation. Hear me out. For no particular reason I decided to fight Apple tooth and nail in order to create legal and legit Mac OS X builds of my games from 2016 by becoming a certified Apple developer and I also decided to do it right after New Years. Why not. After banging my head against the wall for next few days I finally managed to do it, with help from much more skilled friend (thanks, Mike). Skilled, as in: more apt in deciphering what exactly it is that Apple wants you to do now: pay up, jump the hoop or roll over. Now that it’s done, and it’s a REAL milestone in my book, the only regret I have is that I can’t put it on my to-do list for 2017. Because… it’s already done. Oh well.
Let’s look back at 2016.
Plan A (comic books)
Why exactly did I divide those plans this way? As in: one for comic book, another for games? Seems senseless, since games (plan B) were much more important than comic book (plan A). Nevermind. Let’s take a look.
Revolutions 10: Full Automatisation. Yeah, 10th book in the Revolutions series, written by Jerzy Szyłak, slated once again for May release, which means I’ll spend most of Jan-March painting that book. Fortunately the story is already written (it has been since… uhm… 2004… 12 years ago?… Jesus…), so all I have to do is draw it. Seems legit.
Well, yes, sure. That kind of goes without saying. Another year, another comic book album. Nothing to see here. Carry on. Oh, right. A link. Ok, here you are: read more about this project.
Revolutions 1: the Parabole [digital version] – first of the Patreon sponsored projects, this will require me to prepare entire album for an e-book version, which then will be sold in .pdf, .cbr and .cbz formats (supporters from Patreon get that book naturally free).
Yes, mainly because it was a Patreon goal, now you can buy and read this comic book in digital form, and, what’s funny about this project, it was far more difficult to create a .pdf file than I expected, but it’s never too late to learn new things, like Adobe Indesign for example. This book is available in my store, click here to check it out.
Revolutions 2: the Elipse [digital version]. Same as above. I want to publish those two first books from the series this year, and if it turns out that you like it, I’ll press on with the rest of the series, 9 albums so far, 10th being in production right now as I said a minute ago).
Exactly. As I said a minute ago. Same as above. That was the second digital comic book Patreon goal. Achieved, released, well, barely released. I barely squeezed it into the back end of 2016, having it postponed till after the release of Mission to Earth. But I managed. This book is also, like the previous one, available in my store, check it out here.
Daymare Morphs [online webcomic version]. Again, thanks to Patreon you can enjoy this comic in a webform for free. It’s out already. You can find it here. The idea is – releasing one episode each monday this year. All of those stories are already done, it’s just a matter of digitalisation and translation. I feel it’s achievable. Maybe except summer months when I’ll be away from home, but other than that, you can check every Monday for a new episode.
I’m sorry if the word “Patreon” is showing up too much for your liking in this post, however it’s hard to deny that this became my main source of income in 2015-2016, therefore it kind of dictates what’s happening here. Anyway, back to the project. This one was the longest and probably most time consuming of all this year’s projects. It lasted almost entire year (46 episodes in 46 weeks), that’s 225 pages all together. Each page had to be scanned again, cleaned of all entropy imperfections (those pages are 15 years old), everything had to be colorized, translated and prepared for web. And guess how many people were in my team to do all this. If you guessed: nobody except for me – you’re right! You win a prize of… uhm… reading Daymare Morphs web comics again? For free? By clicking this link?
Oh yes. The B plan. The plan that is usually referred as being the backup, secondary, not-that-important-as-plan-A plan. Well, not in this case. In this case, plan B was far more important than plan A this year. Yeah, I know. Sorry about that. I don’t know what I was thinking a year ago. Wait, let me check what I was thinking a year ago.
You know what, this year I’ll divide it to two plans, plan A being about comic books and plan B – about games. That will clear things up (not really).
Pure genius. That’s some world-class thinking right there. That’s some high level plan dividing skills right there.
Anyway, back to plan B.
Mission to the Sun and Mission to Earth. Yeah. You can stop laughing already. I know those two games are like never ending inside joke by now. They’re always on this list, but they never get made. This year will be different. This year they will both get made. You just wait and see. Probable release date – somewhat around summer 2016.
Yes! those two games are done, the series is done, the goddamn “finishing old stuff before doing new stuff” is done. Goddamn “transition years” are done. I’m done with the old, there’s nothing to look back to, only the road ahead. (More about this later on).
You know what, I went back and checked since when I’ve been talking about creating these two games and finishing the series. And you know what? I’ve been talking about it since THE VERY FIRST WRAP-UP IN 2012. Don’t believe me? Here’ take a look:
finishing the “mission to…” series
That was supposed to happen in 2013. Oh, happy days. They were postponed every year since, but NOT ANYMORE! Oh, a side note: remind me to never give any probable release dates in the future. I was a bit off on this concerning these two games. I wrote: summer 2016. Well, Mission to the Sun was released in September, close enough. But Mission to Earth was released in December, but there are good reasons for it. First good reason: I’m not that good at estimating probable release dates.
But joking aside, this, my dear readers is the moment when the world stood still, figuratively. This is the tipping point, the exact moment when I ceased being a Flash developer, and became a Game Maker developer. I know it seems like not that important, but it was a giant leap for me. You see, I’m not a programmer, switching to new software, to new programming language, to new interface, new way of thinking about creating games wasn’t a walk in the park for me. But I can proudly say that I did it. And as I become more fluent in Game Maker Language each day I can say the switch was a good decision from my current point of view. Maybe there are variables that I can’t see right now (like diminishing fan base due to lack of presence in the free online Flash games market), but for now things are looking good. Better than ever actually.
And these two games, the same ones that were a joke since 2012, turned out to be most important this year. Mission to the Sun was my first game ever created in Game Maker. Mission to Earth, on the other hand – was my biggest and most advanced of the 2016 class. While Mission to the Sun is just a one-screen endless runner type of game, as many in the series, for Mission to Earth I wanted to look back at the entire series, go back to the very first episode, Mission to Mars and kind of redo it in the new environment, new circumstances, new era. You can see that Mission to Mars, sporting a small screen, suitable for web pages (I remember the guidelines from Arcade Town back in 2006 or so, stating the game shouldn’t be wider than 480 pixels, that’s really like an era ago…), was about finding your path through a level that you couldn’t see (you were travelling through the level Mario-style, camera was following the player). In Mission to Earth on the other hand you can see the whole level at once, it’s a full screen modern resolution game (1920 x 1080 pixels). The camera isn’t following the player. It stays still, so that you can enjoy the graphical design. As you can see the focus of gameplay changed. You didn’t have to explore the level, you had to solve the puzzle of getting to unreachable platforms. The evolution of game design marches on. I’m kind of babbling at this point, but main thing is – I managed to switch from Flash to Game Maker, and that gives me wider possibilities of not only game creation, but distribution as well (I’m looking at you, Steam). It is done. Can hardly believe it. Era of finishing old series is over… Here you can download Mission to the Sun and Mission to Earth.
10 Gnomes in Pothia. Ah-ha! I told you I already had location pictures for this one! Yes, this game is definitely happening.
Continuing the transition – this game was the first point and click attempt in Game Maker. It was deliberately this one, since Gnomes are rather simple to make as far as pnc goes, there’s no inventory, no actual interaction with environment, just clicking through and finding gnomes. That’s all. And it works fine. But when I look at that script from half a year ago – it’s laughably bad, next gnomes will have completely overhauled engine. But that’s a normal turn of things when you learn new game creation engine. I remember 10 years ago in Flash, every game was twice as good and advanced code wise. Right now it happens again, that quick evolution of my coding ability. Do I feel 10 years younger? Yes, yes I do.
Where is 2017? well, as I said before, if I find a new way to entertain you next December, I’ll do it. If not, this series is done for. Let’s hope for the best here, ok?
Done for? Are you insane, me from a year ago? But we’ve reached a bit of a controversy this year. I know not all of you were here when the series started, but just to explain the point of the series. This game is more of a end of year postcard, than a real game. It’s always been like that since 2009. Once there was even a game that consisted of only one screen. Having said that – I received two nicely outspoken and long written comments about Where is 2017? that it was not only too short, but also not in the right genre of gameplay. Shortness I explained already, but the genre argument is kind of funny, since when you look at the whole series, it sports many different genres, ranging from point and click, through puzzle platform to simple platforming. Once there was a game that I was making an entire year, when you had 12 scenes, created each month throughout the year. So this series is not really constant in terms of what it is, how it plays and how long each game is. This year for example it was a simple shooter where you defeat [spoilers!] old year which turned out to be a massive troll. I will continue this series even though some people might get an impression that I sold out, and it’s all about the Patreon money and slacking off, only because their free new years postcard from me was too short. See you next year for Where is 2018? Meanwhile, here is Where is 2017?
Covert Front 5. This one is a bit shaky. It’s like 40% probable. I won’t be surprised if next year’s wrap up will encounter a LOL NOPE on this one. Can’t tell you details right now, but there are a lot of circumstances that might influence this game’s existence. One being – game storyteller, I have no idea whether he’ll come up with a decent story for CF5. Other variables include – me being able to create this game at all. Wait, I already said too much right now.
Uhm… No comment! I plead the fifth! This is the only LOL NOPE this year. Which is a good win/loose percentage in my opinion. But as you can see above this project was a bit shaky from the beginning. It was a Patreon goal, but since then total pledges sum fell under that goal once again and that’s when this game kind of went to the not-happening state. The future of this game remains shaky. Will it make my 2017 to-do list? No.
The foundations of something bigger and better, a proper game if you will. I know this one sounds vague, but believe me, it’ll all come together once I explain in detail what I’m about to do game-wise this year. Just hold on.
That was a bit cryptic, right? Well, you know everything by now. The switch from Flash to Game Maker, creation of smaller games, learning new coding language, all of that business. All done. Yes, foundations for something bigger and better have been laid. Something bigger and better, a proper game will be happening. It kind of is already. I’ll talk about this in the to-do section of this post, but for now let’s check out Plan C, also known as all-other-things-I-did-that-were-not-listed-a-year-ago.
All other things I’ve done in 2016 that were not listed on my to-do list for that year. And, oh, boy, there were few of those, (checks the list). Oh right, here we go:
I think that’s it. Let’s move on from what was to what will be.
2017 to-do list
Let’s make sure this list is divided by importance, not by arbitrary reasons like whether we’re talking about comic books or games. Let’s add some gravity to those plans.
And guess what, this time those plans are also divided to game- and comic book- focused ones. Who might have foresee that! (Not me). But it’s kind of understandable, the gaming stuff is what keeps me and my family alive, comic book stuff is just art.
I’d also add creating Mac OS X versions of my games to this list but I already did it! Dang it! But that just proves that I’m not messing around this year, things are already happening, development is already in motion, let’s see where it will take us this year. (I’m not sure).
We have another great year ahead of us and the path is clear. What else could you wish for.
And with that I’ll leave you.
Remember that you can support all of this on Patreon!
See you next year!
Hey Mac OSX users! Finally some good news from me!
I managed to become a certified Mac developer, which means I can bring you totally legit and legal versions of my games created in 2016. In other words: Happy New Year!
Before I let you go, there’s one important thing I have to say:
If you are on Mac OSX Sierra (the newest one) and these games are not working for you, there’s a simple solution. Just move those game files from Downloads to Applications. That fixes the problem and everything works fine.
Also: 10 Gnomes is a big file (all those photographs, you know), please give it some 5 seconds to load properly before deciding it’s not working at all…
Than You for your time and, well, here are all four .zip files for you:
Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?…
If you have no idea of what’s going on here, may I refer you to this page right here click now and get knowledge. Long story short, 24 Comic Day is a challenge of continuous comic creation that lasts entire 24 hours, from Saturday noon till Sunday noon. Yeah, I know, insane.
This year I was clever about this and just used this opportunity to start creating my next comic book, Morfolaki 4. I managed to finish 7 pages. I thought it would be easier, because it’s black and white and mostly just drawing, but honestly I forgot how time consuming creating Morphs pages can be. Just look below at some examples and you’ll understand.
Besides drawing I also created a short movie about the whole project and people involved in it. Take a look: