Winter Sale + 2020 Overview

Christmas is around the corner, and as usual, we’ll be holding our Winter Sale between 22 December and 5 January. During this period most of our packs and bundles will be available at a 25% discount. As you probably know, the autumn period has frequent sales, but once the new year begins, there usually isn’t anything for a while. So if you’ve been tempted to bag a few packs to play with later, maybe thinking ahead and grabbing them now on a discount would be the best choice for a while.
 

This year was quite extraordinary for all of us, so I wanted to look back and take some time to walk through what happened in the past 12 months at Overhead Games.

January has been kicked off with the creation of a new website. The other site was built using older technology and our needs eventually grow over its limitations. A lot of time was spent on building the current, since everything was needed to be recreated, mostly from scratch. This took quite some time and taking all the optimization that went into account probably filled a good part of February too.
 
With the new site, I took the opportunity to start writing News in a blogpost fashion so that anyone interested could keep track of what’s happened, even if they aren’t subscribers to our Newsletters. I started creating monthly Wrap-ups so we can still post an update on what’s been in the oven even though nothing major happened worth sending a newsletter for. You can find these Wrap-ups in the News section: 
 
 
In March, Throne Lady #2 was released, and we also held our 6th Birthday, where we sent out a free pack to all subscribers in our Newsletters.
 
In May, after long years of waiting, we finally released the option to export the characters as layered PSD files. We wanted to make sure we are providing this option the most optimal way possible for our users, so we had a detailed questionnaire prior to the release, where we asked our Pro users to discuss potential pricing and the form of release. We were really happy to see so many replies and we were confident we’ll provide the exporter in a way that most of our users will be happy with.
We also released ePic Character Generator on itch.io at the same time. While I wanted to provide the best, integrated experience for users checking out the software there, I failed to get the attention of the support team, so I was unable to properly configure the options for users to purchase packs on itch.io directly. As a result, all transactions will still go through our website similar to how it’s done in the standalone client.
 
In June, the male pair of the Throne Lady, the Throne Savage was released. It was interesting since this was the first package where we provide full coloring options for the skin, and as a result, even with a single base character, lots of exciting personalities can be created.
 
In August we took a little side-trip, and since I’ve been working with new people on my next project, we decided it’d be a good experience to participate in the GMTK Game Jam, and make a game in under 48 hours around a theme specified by the organizer. While the originality of the game ended up in the top 10%, our overall score only put us in the first 20% of the participants. Nonetheless, we were happy with these results. If you are interested, you can read a more detailed post on how we approached the jam here: https://overheadgames.com/gmtk-game-jam-2020-waste-waster/
Waste Waster Gameplay
At the end of August, I took a look at RPG Scenery, an exciting way to visualize scenes during role-playing. You can read my experience, as well as try the software for yourself following the links here: https://overheadgames.com/rpgscenery-a-quick-way-to-illustrate-scenes-and-battle-maps/
 
Since September, only a small amount of time was spent working on ePic Character Generator. I fixed a few issues that were reported earlier both in the client and on the website, while also participating in various sale events on Steam.
 
In November, the Fantasy Starter Bundle debuted in the Humble Store, which is a huge milestone for us! Getting into the Humble Store is not easy, since they are very selective on what they allow into their storefront. Thanks to all the users that were using the Steam version over the past years, and especially those who decided to write reviews on the store page, we were able to demonstrate that people are happy with the software, and eventually get listed.
 
I also got into my first sponsoring deal with The Games Tavern, as I offered a few keys for lucky viewers of their streams. I also got interviewed by Reid, and we talked about how I became a programmer, why we decided to create ePic Character Generator in the first place, and what’s coming next.

In December, the official Overhead Games discord server has finally been launched. It’s brand new, but there are lots of things to do already. First, you can hang out and chat with us, enjoying our company. While we can discuss any topic on your mind, or play games together, we’ll also share updates and sneak-peeks there first.

You can also play various games, like russian roulette, blackjack, participate in cute animal-races or simply bet on a coin flip, just to name a few. With all these games, you can collect Gold, a digital currency on the server, that you can later exchange for various goodies. As of now, there are already several Steam keys for various games, as well as ePic Character Generator packages available. You can also offer your own digital items on the marketplace, and obtain more Gold in the process. Both the list of available goodies as well as the games will be extended later on. In the past two years, I wrote numerous games for discord on a friend’s server, and we’ve had extreme fun playing these over the months. Since the architecture of the bots is a bit different, it’ll take some time for me to port these, but they are coming!

But that’s not all! You can also participate in a fully-fledged, text-driven idle RPG, where you can go on adventures, obtain loot and money, level up, upgrade items, form or join guilds, battle others for fame and glory, and many many more activities await you! So come, join us: https://discord.gg/ntG95jFV79

But this is not the end of the story yet. As I mentioned, since September most of my time was not spent with ePic Character Generator, as I’ve been working on a new game for quite some time now. The original idea came in April 2019, and ever since I’ve been on and off the project whenever I found the time. I started working on it more seriously this January, and since it’ll be a game with lots of text in it, I hired a writer to create these parts, as I’m not a good writer myself. During Autumn, I also came to a point where the high-level vision was already refined enough so I could start looking at different art directions. I looked around on various platforms to find the perfect match for my vision, and in the end, I got over 50 applications as potential artists for the game. I took several iterations with them, and in the end, I got the perfect style that’ll go really well with the setting and the mood of the world. I hope you enjoy the sneak-peek below:

Overhead Games Unannounced Game

In the meantime, I also started looking for a second designer/writer. We were able to create most of the buzz of the new world ourselves, but I felt that there’s still a missing component I wanted to put more focus on. At the time of writing, the game, from a technological point of view, is in a very advanced stage. All that is left to do now is fill it up with all the content we want to add, make the game interesting and exciting, and do lots of iterations to make it a very enjoyable experience. We plan to do a closed alpha and beta testing at some point early next year, so keep an eye on your e-mails, or join our discord server, if you like detective games, and would be interested to sign up!

As for the future, Elena, the artist of the Throne packs is working on a new package for ePic Character Generator. Once again, it’ll be a completely unique take you never saw before, but there are quite a few technical quirks we need to overcome before we can release it for you.

I hope you liked this recap of the year, and are as excited for next year as I am. I hope to be able to share some more with all of you very soon. If you want to have a more detailed overview of what has been happening, check out our News section!

Have a nice Christmas, and let’s hope together that 2021 will be a better New Year!

Monthly Wrap-up: April

April has gone by and we’ve been busy building things we hope you will all enjoy. We hope you and your families and safe and healthy amidst the current situation.

Thankfully in the games and software industry, things didn’t change much. First, we kicked off the month with our 6th Birthday Sale, in which many of you participated. We also sent out a free pack to all our newsletter subscribers as a thank you for all the support we got since we launched. We also got a new logo, which we hope you like too. 🙂

We published two updates to ePic Character Generator during the month, where we fixed various issues. We focused a bit more on the Android version this month. After the introduction of Android 10, we noticed that saving files to arbitrary locations (for example the Documents folder) is no longer supported. Since they completely reworked how file access can be done, we spent over 20 hours trying to get this single feature alone right. But we couldn’t. Since the software is written in c++, and applications for Android are run in a Java environment, there are certain layers that are needed to enable communication between these two languages. Unfortunately, the way the new Storage Access Framework works on Android 10 and above is meant to be used by Java applications only, and passing a filehandle back to the native application to read and write the files is something that can’t be properly done without implementing extreme workaround which will also stop working once Android 11 is released. So after wasting so many hours on this, we decided to revert to restricting users to only be able to save and load to the app’s internal directory. We understand that this solution is not ideal, but it’s still a better way than disabling saving on mobiles completely.

Apart from that, we also started working on a very exciting and very frequently asked feature under the hood. To have a better understanding of what would be the best way to bring this new feature to you, we sent out a survey to our Pro members. Since they already have access to way more features than non-Pro users, and also they are our most dedicated supporters, we felt that they’d know best how to move forward with our idea. We received lots of great feedback and ideas which we’ll be able to use to launch this new feature. If you are a Pro member, we seriously suggest registering an account on our site to be able to receive specific communication from us, hear about new features we are working, and be able to communicate your needs and ideas so we can better steer the development of the software in a direction that would be the best for everyone. If you are a Pro member and haven’t yet completed our short survey, just launch the software and a message box would pop up offering the option to do so. We are working hard to take all your feedback in, and we hope to be able to launch the new feature by the end of the month.

We also received some questions asking what’s the best way to keep informed of all the stuff we are working on. The best way to keep updated is to be a subscriber of our newsletter, which we usually send once every 2-3 months. We also post monthly updates to our blog, share it on the project’s page, and on our developer hub. If you use Steam, make sure to follow us there too:
https://store.steampowered.com/developer/OverheadGames

You can also follow us on your favorite social media channel and keep in touch:
https://www.facebook.com/overheadgames/
https://www.twitter.com/overheadgames/

We are excited to see how you’ll like all the things we’ve been working on once they are rolled out.

Stay tuned!

Monthly Wrap-up: February

February flown by quite quick, and we were quite busy with plenty of things on our hands regardless.

After booting up the new site, we spent some more time on fine tuning several areas of it which we didn’t feel comfortable with. Right now most the functionalities are ready and while we do have several improvements in mind, most of those are going to happen under the hood.

We published an update to ePic Character Generator, as there were some issues when Saving the different hand positions in the Throne Lady pack, thanks to everyone who pointed out the problems in our Forums! We also got notified of another issue in the Supernatural packs, that sometimes the body parts were not correctly hidden when a supernatural part was selected. Back in Autumn, 2019 we spent a lot of time rewriting the config file structure to accommodate the needs of both the Comic Monster and the Throne Lady packages, and while doing so we left a few bugs in there. A related issue was recently found, when multiple items (like the Pirate pegleg and the Supernatural lower body parts) were activated at the same time, they not always reverted back to their correct states after several changes. These issues also got ironed out, but the update hasn’t been published yet.

In the second part of February, we spent some more time working on our upcoming game. We fleshed out the most important mechanics in a playable build, and everything started to work together nicely. We also further expanded on the world we created and answered a lot of questions we asked internally. We also started working on the graphics for this title, so we expect to start sharing some more info on this project with you soon.

We also started to wrap up our social presence a bit more. We started creating a “Character of the Week”, and share it on our social platforms. We’ll also be sharing news, sneak peeks and other exciting stuff there soon too, so if you are interested, make sure to follow us on your favorite social platform:
https://www.facebook.com/OverheadGames
https://www.instagram.com/OverheadGames
https://twitter.com/OverheadGames

As you know, we started a Questionnaire in December, 2019 to get a better understanding of how ePic Character Generator is being used. We received lots of useful feedback so far, so we decided to share some of the statistics we got:

Do you agree or disagree with the results? Make sure your opinion also get to us by filling in the short Questionnaire here: https://forms.gle/baTMzcTA5VDbmK1ZA

We also promised 50 packs for free to anyone taking part in the survey! We decided to do an incremental draw, and while keeping the poll open, we’ll start distributing the free packs! We selected 10 participants randomly, and will reach out to them shortly to confirm their winnings. The sooner you fill out the Questionnaire, the more chance you’ll have in further draws!

Monthly Wrap-up: January

Among many other changes, we decided to start writing monthly wrap-ups, to look back on what has happened in the past month and summarize the most important bits of it. This is also exciting for us so we can actually see how many things we were able to achieve compared to what we planned, but hopefully it’d also provide some more insights on how we do things and what we are working on currently.

January has mostly been consumed by the process of transitioning to the new website. Our old one was created in 2013 at around the same time we launched our Indiegogo compaign for ePic Character Generator, mainly to provide a place to connect with people interested in what we were doing. The Forums were a good place to engage in conversation with us and the others, and it proved to be a very valuable tool for us, as we often got feedback which we were able to take into consideration when we needed to decide what to do next. Oftentimes we get bug reports which also help us tremendously in figuring out what’s working as intended and what’s not. A huge thanks to everyone who’s keeping a constant eye on the health of the software and letting us know whenever something bad happens!

After the release of the software the website operated as a shop, as it was the only place the generator was available. As we ported the software to Steam in 2015 we needed to add many extra functionalities to the site which helped new users get started quickly, like the FAQ page. We also created a Showcase section and started developing a Profile page, so users can easily manage their collections and exchange free packs to the ones they are interested in using the most.

The site worked okay for several years, but last year we started focusing on moving forward, and examined several factors in how we are presenting ourselves to the market. Our old site was based on Joomla, which was a quite popular CMS back in the days, but it grew old over the years, and we had a very hard time getting it to do what we wanted to do with it. We spent months on trying to get everything right on that, but in December, 2019 we realized we can no longer stick to keeping it, so we decided to transition to a new site based on WordPress, which is one of the most popular CMS today, with tons of plugins and addons available on the market.

We knew that migrating the site would not be an easy task, as this essentially meant that we’ll need to rebuild everything from scratch. Luckily we found plugins to be able to put together the existing functionality, as we needed to provide a way for users to register and log in, to be able to purchase packs, and to have a forum where discussions can carry on. As of now, we are quite happy with the results, but we also know that the site is far from finished. We still have plenty of areas we need to improve both visually and functionally. We also spent a significant amount of time on optimizing and caching, so load speeds would be more ideal, but this topic is also something that can continue on forever.

Although most of the time in January was spent on the website, we were also able to focus on the software a bit. We faced an issue on Google Play with devices using Android 10, as they are no longer able to download expansion files. We filed a bug report with Google and they are investigating the issue. We also received several feedback mostly from mobile users that linking accounts are rather difficult, so we improved how the linking flow works and today account linking both on Steam and Google Play are 95% automatic.

We were also able to spend some time on our next project. We know that finding the right setting for it was a crucial first step, so we did some research on what settings are trending, but the market is still not yet overwhelmed with different titles. We are pretty happy with the results, and we now have a basic introduction to the world it’s going to be placed in. We know this sounds exciting, but we can only reveal more details on it just a bit later.

In February we expect to flesh out most of the remaining issues with our website, as well as to deliver an update to ePic Character Generator and fix some of the known bugs.