Unbelievable, it's been a full year since my big-huge game project AfterShocked! was released. That's like a lifetime, I guess, if you're one year old. So what's happened since then? What was the response to the game? How many people played it? What have I been up to? All these questions will soon be answered...
The number of people who have played AfterShocked! in its first year has greatly exceeded my expectations. I didn't really expect more than a few thousand people to play AfterShocked!. After all, this is a 46 meg game in a genre that hasn't been popular for the greater part of the past decade. During AfterShocked!'s first week out, a trickle of people downloaded the game-- mostly hardcore adventure game players-- due to my own promotion on numerous message boards and websites. At the time, I was paying a small amount of money for a company to host my site and give me a dot-com address, www.madgames.org. When the game was added to download.com's database, a massive number of people downloaded the game in a short period of time. To be exact, more than 800 in two days. This put me well over my bandwidth limit, and would have ended up costing me hundreds of dollars had I not canceled the service quickly. Fortunately, the company was stupid enough to not close my account and turn off my service for another two months, allowing me time to get a new (free) host, and costing the company lots and lots of bandwidth. After tallying up information from various counters, I've found that AfterShocked! has been downloaded in excess of 15,000 times.
In addition, Computer Gaming World featured AfterShocked! in the shareware section of their November, 2002 monthly disc that's included with each magazine. The magazine has a monthly circulation of 300,000, so assuming a only small portion of the people who bought the mag played the game, that's still a huge load of people. This puts the number of people who have played AfterShocked! squarely above the number of copies that a lot of commercial games sell in their lifetimes.
Speaking of which, I'm sure at least a few of you are wondering why I didn't simply put out a demo and try to sell the game, rather than releasing it as freeware. Truthfully, it's because I preferred that a larger number of people got to play the full version. However, I'm almost regretting this decision after realizing just how much money I could have made off this venture. Assuming 1% or 2% of people who played the demo bothered to buy the full version for $15 or so, and 15,000 people played the demo... g'ah, that could have been a nice chunk of change right there.
This isn't to say that AfterShocked! hasn't helped me at all. When I was applying to colleges in late 2001, AfterShocked! was usually the prime subject of my admissions essays. I also made sure to include, somewhere, an address where college folks could get their hands on a beta version of the game. I can't say for sure how much of an effect this had, but I was accepted to all six of the colleges that I applied to. Technically, the chances of me getting into all of these colleges was around 5%. In addition, my game is also partially responsible for me getting a job as a game design teacher/counselor at Emagination Computer Camp.
Critical response to AfterShocked! has been more than satisfactory to me. Adventure game fans, who more than any other group I was trying to appeal to, gave AfterShocked! high praise upon its release. Response to the game that I've gotten via e-mail has been overwhelmingly positive as well. Yet, as of now, AfterShocked! has garnered 50% positive reviews and 50% negative reviews at download.com. This isn't terribly surprising, as most of the reviews seem to have been written by kids/teens, and possibly a few grammatically/mentally challenged adults. I have yet to see one bad review that comes even close to being well-written. After working as a counselor at a computer camp, I can safely say that kids are rarely familiar with the old-school adventure game genre. My guess is that many people who downloaded the game were expecting more of an RPG or action-adventure, or perhaps something on the graphical level of Doom III for free. Also, I think more than a few people were unwilling to sit through AfterShocked!'s fairly long intro sequences, in which case they should not have been writing reviews. One such person, apparently a 15 year old girl, left her e-mail address, so just for fun, I got into a drawn-out e-mail war with her. In what I assume was her revenge, she left a four more bad reviews on download.com and created this website, a testament to her stupidity. Folks, you can't make this stuff up. Just visit the website to see what I'm talking about.
Here are my two favorite comments made about the game. The first is from Computer Gaming World's disc:
If you can put up with the Magic Marker artwork and some off-color humor, Aftershocked is perhaps the finest spiritual successor to the old LucasArts adventure games that has ever been released. The post-apolyptic setting is just as absurd as the game's many puzzles, but the interface is so slick and the story flows so well that it's tough to stop playing once things get rolling.
The second is from a guy who posted on download.com:
it was dumbs as hell
Less than a month after AfterShocked! was released, I went off to college at the University of Southern California to earn a computer science degree. I had plans to work on a second game that year, but I decided against it, as there was other stuff that I wanted to concentrate on at the time-- namely schoolwork. While working as a counselor this summer, I've written my first screenplay-- a raunchy comedy about, what else, college. So that's what I've been doing, in case you cared.
There you have it, the aftermath of my "dumbs as hell" game. I'll be back one day with more gaming goodness for you. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow... but whenever!
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