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Posted on December 1, 2019
Phase 1 Post Mortem
This is a look at the last five years of my studio, JeTSpice Games, good and bad.
January 30, 2015
JeTSpice Games publishes GrindCraft on Kongregate. It wins Game of the Week. Fans like it, offering ideas on new levels.
More levels are added to GrindCraft. The player base grows exponentially. We (Seth and Jeff) are very surprised and excited.
Players push GrindCraft to 100,000 daily plays. We start thinking about long-term goals for the game. Jeff (JeTSpice) is tied up in a day job, leaving development for weekends and vacations.
The one-year anniversary of GrindCraft. In celebration, more content is released. Daily plays approach 150,000.
For the next year, we design an idle MMO based on GrindCraft called Grindcraftia, and look for funding. Simultaneously, JeTSpice starts coding an idle game engine called GrindCraftEngine in HTML5. Several grindcrafty games are made with it.
GrindCraftEngine is complete. Jeff welcomes his third kid, but he also loses his job. Seth successfully sells copies of GrindCraftEngine, which keeps the studio afloat.
After a year and a half with no new content, daily plays drop below 50,000. However, the original GrindCraft has been pirated by a few online game portals. All-time plays for GrindCraft reach 30 million world-wide. JeTSpice begins development on isometric support for GrindCraftEngine. Seth dubs it The Ant Farm. With The Ant Farm, the studio can create idle dungeon crawlers, idle world-building games, and idle RTS games.
Grindcraftia alpha is released for PC, built on GrindCraftEngine and The Ant Farm. In spite of the studio’s good metrics, highly-rated games, and reliable track record, no long-term funding can be secured. Updates to actual games are few and far between while Jeff jumps from contract to contract to make ends meet.
After four years, GrindCraft reaches the 50 million mark. Using those numbers, JeTSpice makes a deal with a coder and marketer to get the game onto mobile and add multiplayer. In a push to fund Grindcraftia, JeTSpice announces The Wither Expansion, and solicits crowdfunding. However, no marketing is done and no money is raised. Additionally, one of the coder’s family members contracts serious health issues, and he must bow out, multiplayer unfulfilled. Additionally, one of Jeff’s family members also develops life-altering health issues. By summer of 2018, daily plays dip below 20,000.
Jeff decides on an overarching design theme for all projects going forward, based on 80’s retro-futurism. All games going forward will fit into this paradigm.
Work begins on a new game to showcase GrindCraftEngine and The Ant Farm to investors. JeTSpice Games teams up with graphic illustrator Tom Lintern (creator of the manga series Girrion) to realize a video game for his new graphic novel, Death Mall!. The game is an idle dungeon crawler set in an 80’s retro-futuristic shopping mall. A Discord is set up for JeTSpice Games to better connect with fans. Outlook is hopeful, but the very next month, another one of Jeff’s family members falls ill, diagnosed with cancer. He spends a majority of his time in hospitals and clinics. Development once again slows to a crawl.
Despite five years since the original GrindCraft was published, fans still wait patiently for the next iteration. Jeff’s car is totalled in a freak accident. The following six months are spent driving to clinics, sharing a car between two families. Development time is at a standstill. The studio’s credit is almost depleted.
The studio wins a small grant, and Seth sells some more engines. Its enough money to keep the studio afloat a bit longer. Jeff’s septic system goes out. Repair costs are in the tens of thousands, and he is forced to make due for the next nine months. He calls it GrindCraft in real life.
The car drama is over, and the studio decides to use the recouped time to develop a second game in order to showcase the isometric capabilities of GrindCraftEngine. The game is called Dungeon Sweepers, and follows a B-team of heroes tasked with cleaning up a dungeon, armed only with mops and brooms, only to realize that the A-team left quite a few monsters alive. Simultaneously, a joint-venture is forged with another studio to create other grindcrafty games, and also to bring the games to mobile. At that time, an unknown third party successfully launches the original GrindCraft on mobile, causing daily plays to quintuple.
A third idle isometric game, called Gaunt is undertaken by the studio. Inspired by the 80’s arcade game Gauntlet, Gaunt follows 4 undead as they make their way through forests and villages to get back to their graveyard. Gaunt, Dungeon Sweepers, and Death Mall! become the Phase 2 of the studio’s universe. As world-wide plays of the original GrindCraft approach 60 million, JeTSpice announces that work will begin again on Grindcraftia in the winter.
December 1, 2019
Work begins on Grindcraftia.