January 27, 2011

Name Change

After getting properly scared of trademark law, I was finally convinced that Aurora is a poor choice of name for my game. Today, I changed it to Auralux, and edited everything I could to reflect the switch.

Auralux makes some sense as a combination of Aura + Aural + Lux (light), but it doesn't sound right to my ears yet. Aurora had been the name of the project from the very very beginning, when all I had in mind was a vision of stars colliding in space. I'm loathe to give it up.

But alas, business sense must intervene now that I'm trying to actually sell a commercial game. And besides, purely as a matter of courtesy, it isn't good to be stepping on the toes of Aurora the awesome Unity game, or Aurora the 4X game, or any of the various Aurora flash games.

January 20, 2011


Aurora has been getting coverage from all over, including on:
IndieGames.com blog
Some Brazilian Site

Few of them are true reviews, instead focusing on the free promotion, but it's a start!

January 18, 2011


Aurora has been successfully launched.

I'm 12 hours into my "first day free" promotional thingie, and so far 64 crazy people have paid me for a free game, which means I've already broken even on my minimal development costs! Tomorrow at noon the game starts costing $5 for everyone.

The reddit thread was helpful in finding bugs, too. The most common one was a crash when the player didn't have Windows Media Player installed. It seems that XNA uses wmplayer.exe to play its music, which I can't package with the game easily. Luckily, installing WMP seems to solve the problem. The second most common bug is still out there, stalking my potential customers, unfortunately. A lot of people are having late-game performance problems, too.

I implemented some of the ideas in the comments, such as a keyboard zoom function and a colorblind mode. People keep suggesting things I want to try, but I know that if I start to work on them, the game will never truly be "done". One idea that's been bouncing around in my head is to just leave Aurora in its current state and start work on a cross-compatible, higher-performance sequel. A bunch of people have already offered their help for such an endeavour.

For the next couple days, though, I'm just going to focus on riding the momentum and making this a successful launch. Even if everything tanked from this point forward, though, I think I'd be satisfied. I didn't dare to hope it would get so much attention on reddit, or that it would make it to so many sites on the first day. I've got to be happy with that, and I am.

January 10, 2011

One Week

Since Aurora has been "done", I've been continually finding things to change about it. A new endgame score display, new desktop icon, minor changes to the levels, and tweaks for display and sound. It keeps getting better, bit by bit. I recently sent the beta build to a bunch of my geeky high school friends, and soon I had a pile of really good suggestions. I can't act on all of them, though. I've started fantasizing about a sequel to keep myself content. It even has a name: Borealis.

But, as I often repeat, "works of art are never finished, only abandoned", and I fear that Aurora's time is drawing near. I've set a date: Monday, January 17th. If I miss it, I had better have a good reason. Otherwise, that is when I will release the game for real.

The flow of good suggestions from friends and beta testers has also come with a lot of good feedback. So far everyone has spoken positively of it. I'm not getting the pitying tone of voice that I usually get with an amateur game. It's immensely heartening.

January 1, 2011


Aurora is "done". All intended features and all 15 levels have been implemented. The word gets scare quotes, however, because I keep playing and finding little things to tweak. The highlights around the suns have gotten reworked. The mouse wheel zooming has been made smoother. The behavior of the stars on the menu has been tweaked (and tweaked, and tweaked).

Every time I play I find something new that I want to change, but I don't think that's a negative. I really enjoy what I've created, and I'm satisfied more and more with every change. I don't think everyone will like what I've made, but I'm pretty confident for the first time that my game is objectively good, if such a thing exists.

One out-of-the-ordinary major feature I added is a "speed mode", in which the suns create units four times faster and the units themselves move over ten times faster. The slow pace of Aurora was a core part of the original artistic intent, but once the fundamentals of the game have been mastered at a slow pace, that slowness turns into sluggishness and only serves as a barrier to gameplay. The speed mode gets unlocked after the player wins 10 levels, so the slow part is unavoidable. Also, the game records and reports the record victory times when speed mode is activated. It ends up adding a lot of longer-term value to the game, I think.

I've already drafted a website for Aurora, though it undoubtedly needs work. The next step is to craft a good installer for the game (no trivial task). Then, I need to make a kickass (or, at least, not-embarrassing) trailer video to advertise the game. Then, I plan to enlist a bunch of help for beta testing. If it's installing and running well on the vast majority of systems, I launch. The current release plan is to give away the game and hope to make money later. Call it the dot-com approach.