January: Finishing Stilt Fella development
Back in November 2019 I’d set a preliminary release date of February 26, and by the end of January the game was solid enough that I could commit to that date and start the final marketing push. By which I mean a few tweets and unsuccessfully trying to get the press to cover it.
A lot of hectic last-minute development was happening here. In the last couple months before release the following things got added: 5 levels, Local Multiplayer, Translations (Korean, Simplified Chinese & Finnish), Photo Mode, Theme Music, Steam Achievements, and one sheep.
February 24: Launch week
Well, launch week was here, and I really wasn’t expecting much. I’d failed to get any media coverage at all, and my personal marketing efforts had yielded little attention. My most successful tweet had 126 likes, and I had 150 wishlistings on Steam. There are ~700 games released per month on Steam and most of them fail to get noticed. I was prepared for Stilt Fella being another drop in the bucket, and was doing the calculations over whether I could stay in business long enough to release another game before having to give up on this indie dev dream. But then…
On Monday the 24th, 2 days before release, I find out that French twitch streamer KStar is playing and streaming the game, FOR SEVERAL HOURS! He was bringing a lot of attention to my game, but simply seeing someone get so hooked on the game that they’d spend several hours with it filled me with pride and confidence in the game. On February 26 I pressed the big release button, and Stilt Fella was online.
March: Streamers go crazy for Stilt Fella,
while I try not to go crazy
I’d gotten quite a few requests for keys from streamers via Keymailer, and during release week more and more streams went up on twitch. Initially it was mostly French streamers, but soon the game began spreading to other countries: the US, UK, Finland, Turkey, and eventually the country where it really took off, South Korea. At some points in early March there were occasionally 20 simulatanous streams going, most of them Korean. At its peak the game had 61162 simulataneous viewers, and was featured on the twitch front page!
When I released the first, free version of Stilt Fella on itch.io in 2015, most of my traffic had come from Russian and Korean streamers, so I was hoping that this commercial release would get a similar boost, but this was beyond my expectations.
I spent most of March doing small bug fixes for the game and trying not to freak out about my sudden success. I’ve always gotten stressed out and felt bad even when I released my small, free games. This was… a lot to take in, but I managed to keep my sanity. Meanwhile, out in the real world, there was apparently some kinda pandemic happening? Being somewhat of a social recluse who works from home anyway it didn’t have a huge impact on me. Not at first, anyway.
I didn’t wanna jump straight into another big project after Stilt Fella, so I spent the summer testing out some game ideas that had been rattling around in my brain for a while. Ended up making 3 prototypes.
This is a VR thingy I called “Kayak Fella”. Kinda fun, but too wonky to turn into a proper game. The other 2 prototypes turned out better, and might one day develop into full games.
September-October: Stilt Fella Updates
I was exhausted of Stilt Fella after releasing the game in spring, so I’m glad I took some time off from it over the summer, but towards the fall I started getting eager to return to it. “The Big Fall Update” was just supposed to add a few new levels, but while making it I stumbled on solutions to a couple big physics-glitches that’d been plaguing the game from the start, and the game got much more stable as a result.
Above are a couple level concepts that Stilt Fella player “Naywen” came up with. These eventually made it into finished levels.
In October I continued with development, adding support for Russian, Japanese, and Spanish languages, as well as doing the Halloween update.
The first Covid-19 wave had abated here in Vaasa, Finland towards the end of the summer, and people started going out more. I’d started attending weekly pub-quizzes with friends as well as a few parties with fellow gamedev folks. The second wave hit us hard at the end of September, and everything shut down. With a long, lonely winter ahead, I can tell you I am feeling the effects of this pandemic now. It sucks.
November-December: Working on new stuff
I’m planning another Stilt Fella content update sometime during the winter and I’m also in talks with a few different publishers about bringing it to consoles. But most of my time is devoted to working on a new game, one that I’ve been developing in some form or other since 2016. I can’t wait to show it off to people, but it needs a bit more time in the oven before that can happen.
Coming in 2021…
• Stilt Fella content update (probably)
• Stilt Fella console annoucement (very likely)
• New Game announcement!
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to @SeptemberGames for further updates!