Unity Personal license was revoked

I recently got a message that my use of Unity Personal (my Unity license) was revoked, and that has me wondering why it’s the case. Unity Personal is for any individual, organization with revenue under $100,000 from Unity, and I’m obviously well within that category – my Unity revenue, in effect, does not yet exist. I used Unity once for a $64 freelance gig. I have made $4 from ads on Unity project sites. None of this makes sense as a reason. I used a VPN once – literally one time on a desktop – for reasons entirely unrelated to Unity and Unity identified the failure of Unity on that system soon afterward as a bug, not an indication that I’d done anything wrong. I have no explanation for Unity’s revoking my license, I have in no way violated their terms. The only thing I ever did that might explain this is either a mistake on Unity’s part due to incompetence, or vindictiveness due to my fairly mild criticism of the engine due to the recent Unity controversy involving greedy leadership. I wanted Unity to be a good game engine. I wanted it to thrive because I have had games in the works using it. The fact that they shot themselves in the foot made comments at the time and noting the fact that I was starting to look into an alternative, open-source engine Godot, relatively polite and harmless under the circumstances.

So basically what this means is if Unity Technologies fails to resolve the revoked license and reinstate it, I am stuck with a choice to either:

rebuild entire game dev projects in a different engine, setting everything back by maybe a year or more of work minimum including learning the new software and figuring out a new way to do everything on a list of different projects that have been using Unity.

Or move ahead with Unity and upgrade to a month of Unity Plus/Pro one time every 12 months roughly, which I find unpleasant but am gradually coming around to as possibly a least costly option. My time has value and I poured a TON of time into Unity projects, I really wish to get them over the finish line. And delaying a year or more runs serious risks of the projects not being done at all (ever) due to outlying improbable-but-still-possible risks of geopolitical chaos, personal health risks, or some other surprise near-future incident on an individual, family, national or international/global level causing me to be stuck unable to work on them. Definitely thinking in terms of the notion of Memento Mori, accidents, black swan events, and the unit of measure known as a mort. (probability unit of death in increments of 1/1000 odds of death) which, let’s be clear, there are a few of them every passing year even if world conditions are stable and you’re only in ‘midlife’. I am basically thinking now in that sort of ‘get previously started things done, pause, reconsider before committing to huge new ones’ phase where I need to work on my backlog of huge epic productions and not commit to anything new if the new thing could exceed a total of a full week of labor. [eg an occasional small project like the new 3d asset packs announced on itch.io, that is one thing – I can have that over in under 50 hours, or maybe a short video I’ve been hoping to make forever, but giant stuff, nope, not starting any new huge stuff for a while.

So here’s my current concept:

A Unity Plus license acquired for one month later this year. Likely September. Until that point, projects that had been slated to release soon are on hold, won’t be released as playable. That means Astounding Worlds, Crowdsourced Adventure will be stuck for a few months unless the Unity revocation gets reversed.

Plans for addons to those two slow and big updates arrive once a year in waves – revenue builds up for a year following initial release and I gauge options for what could be added the following year.

That’d be a poll, here and there, on the ‘next thing’ every time revenue builds up to a range where an addon is mostly funded and viable. And that keeps going until the next month I have Unity output ability. I have found I can still work in the Unity editor with a revoked license somehow, it just keeps me from exporting anything out of the editor to a fully playable form. I can still build stuff and test within the editor. Just not release.

What that means is work would continue year round, a bit here and there as funding emerges. If the funding exists to cover it, there could be a full year of no new content and then boom, suddenly two, three, four or five new worlds to explore all at once. Each year, if the support from players is present.

I will also, this summer as September looms close, be posting a reasonable number of screenshots of various areas and other preview material pulled from the editor. You’ll be able to see what’s going on even if the content that exists is not yet available to play. And given no more than a month of actual work remaining on these two projects combined, and a release target of September when I can cover the near-$800 cost of launching a whole pile of stuff on Steam, Epic, itch.IO and also covering the $200ish one-month Unity upgrade, all that means is other things will move forwards faster than games in public’s view UNTIL that month. But that gets me time to save up spare cash.

During that time, when not dealing with Etsy buyers, goals will mainly cluster around new product lines of a non-game sort – texture packs, 3d packs, new Etsy listings, stuff of that nature. There were asset packs starting development in 2021, 2022 that moved slowly and even now aren’t quite ready to launch. So those along with recent in-the-works packs and updates to existing ones, that all gets going really fast for the rest of May, June… watch for that to be a big deal on itch.IO where there’ll be thousands of new things [texture and 3d files] posted across about 8 different asset packs. If that sounds good, this is even better:

They all go on sale, all that new material on top of already existing thousands of assets, for less than $2 COMBINED every once in a while. An outstanding option nobody seems to have really taken seriously until I participated in the Palestinian Aid Bundle. That bundle ended with the outcome of thousands of new visitors to my itch profile, hundreds upon hundreds of downloads of the texture pack that had been in said bundle, now nearing a thousand even after it’s over… and a batch of five-star reviews of that asset pack, all those ratings accumulating, and the last sale I had there, was unannounced Mother’s Day thing that got dozens, almost a hundred visitors looking at that sale page. It was only there for 24 hours. But still it went well. It was in fact the most widely visible sale I’ve ever had. So now I am planning three more one-day sales:

-Memorial Day

-Father’s Day

-July 4th.

Each will be preceded by actual [really substantial] long-awaited updates to my asset packs and collections. All these should be taken seriously as opportunities for anyone who is interested in any way, in 3d art or game development.

BONUS: On Memorial Day 2024 I’ll be setting up some absurd sales on HornbostelProductions.com in particular. There will be Itch.IO discounts, and Etsy discounts too, but the HornbostelProductions ones will be truly crazy – we’re talking 97-98% off on digital products, 75-90% off on physical ones.

Why the **** would I do that? Simple, I’m really hoping to get things rolling here. Etsy’s fee structure is eating up 10+% of my sales, up from the 5% norm three years ago. I see no indication fees will not keep rising there. So although the prices on my own shop are ALREADY about 10% lower than on Etsy, I’m willing to discount REALLY HEAVILY if that gets me a first wave of sales, reviews on my own shop. Once again: All transactions handled via Paypal/Stripe. I never at any point have actual access to any of your your financial data. It’s all SSL-encrypted to the fullest extent possible with Comodo SSL. The prices will be absurdly low and you’ll think, wait, how is this possible? It’s possible because I’ll be embracing a major loss on the sale. It’s possible because I’ve set a limit to how many items can sell of each type during the sale, keeping the total potential for losses at about $175. That also means some items will go out of stock when this happens. If you’re reading this now, you have an edge as you know it’s happening soon and will be able to jump in first on the best stuff before anyone else can claim it.

All I ask: Please post a review/feedback after the fact. That’d be amazing.

UPDATE: Unity Technologies – after roughly a week – responded to a message I sent them and offered a number of avenues to explore regarding a possible fix. The engine is indeed kind of broken for now, and the easiest fix – using Unity Hub – is not so easy to solve as Unity Hub hasn’t worked for me in months – but there’s enough to go on that I may still be able to troubleshoot this and get it fixed. However, considering the issues I’ve run into here, a pileup of problems on Etsy and a broken monitor that took days to replace, which was the cause of delays for a number of Etsy buyers… as well as an effective additional delay on game dev work, and some other issues here at home… even if things are resolved with Unity soon it seems likely all prior launch estimates are about a month or so too optimistic. If everything works out, maybe figure on a launch in late June for Crowdsourced Adventure, early August for Astounding Worlds.

I cannot see these happening any earlier however at this time.

Crowdsourcing adventures full of astounding worlds!

Okay, so updates include the arrival of:

-more and more new paintings about to reach Etsy, plus recent launch of confetti bags like this one that are rather unique insofar as they vary randomly and have printed textures. Plus while there are texture and 3d update delays on Itch.io and a lot of that scheduling clearly misfired, updates are nonetheless still on the way. I am still working on it and my hope is to have that all done finally this month well before the other big stuff of April 2024 drops.

Crowdsourced Adventure – browser-based sci-fi adventure multiverse
Astounding Worlds – unlock a menagerie of fascinating, even astounding, fantasy worlds.

Namely: By end of April 2024 I will post the fixed, reworked first areas of Crowdsourced Adventure, and a bunch of the Astounding Worlds stuff by end of May 2024. I am hoping for a Steam / Epic launch too coinciding with these, which means $400 getting two things launched across two stores at a price of $2 each on every store. That is a $2 launch price, but sales are likely to exist down the road and aside from that, the whole point of the launch is less about racking up profit and more emphasis on visibility. I think marketers call it ‘framing’ – you place it somewhere at a price but also note that it exists there somewhere else for intriguingly less. And you never really intended to mostly sell at the first price. You just wanted to make people aware of it in a big public setting aka Steam and pull them off to your own shop or site and get them playing THERE.

And the sites are already recently redesigned, with further overhauls imminent, and the two games will be HTML5/webgl browser game freeware there. There are ads at the bottom of the page below the game, but they are not going to interfere with the play of the game at all, they are just images with links, that exist along the bottom of the page.

Literally the only reason to play them through Steam then is to have an offline install for PC that fills 100%, not 90% of the full desktop screen area, with no ads at the bottom edge and no usual browser stuff at the top edge.

But the game itself is always exactly the same either way.

Questions people are likely to ask at this moment include:

What about your itch.IO listing?

-Yes, if you bought a big asset bundle of everything on my Itch.IO shop, you get the Astounding Worlds installer for PC the day it hits Steam and Epic. Or if you buy one in the next month, or whenever. Crowdsourced Adventure too – I am adding it to Itch.IO too as first part of the minigame pack.

What about Miniature Minigolf? Miniature Multiverse? Other games? You posted on YouTube and then silence…

-Other projects continue inching forward in development. The two mentioned in this question are HUGE projects for a solo dev and despite much progress there are hundreds of hours work remaining across just those two. If you want to help push those forward please keep visiting my sites and playing whatever I have already released as that is a real show of support for not only the released stuff but for future projects. If someone is playing the small projects it bodes well for bigger ones down the road. As for YouTube there will be video content on YT and Vimeo and HornbostelVideos.com soon relating to all the new launches. I am still actively preparing for HornbostelVideos.com relaunch and that will be big soon but I have to stop at some point in this ongoing addition of page after page, with video after video, and just put it online. That site… wow… I have maybe a hundred old videos headed there over the course of this year from 20+ years of crazy hobbyist video productions and that means occasional VFX fixes in places where they are crucial, including blurring out or replacing logos on T shirts and random business signage in urban outdoor scenes, HD AI upscaling on the older SD videos, adding subtitles, and running everything through cutting edge audio filters in an effort to clean up vocals slightly and reduce the interference and volume of clicks, hisses, wind, and non vocal irrelevant background noise in many dialogue scenes to make the voices clearer here and there where I can. And if the sound of people talking is still muddy, like with echoes, or just really bad built in mics, well, that’s when the subtitles under every video come in and help.

What is this ad nonsense along the bottom of the two new game sites?

It’s two types. One is just links to my various sites and shops, and the other, is to other peoples’ sites, shops, web comics, etc. It is an ad slot for many other indie sites’ banner ads. It’s part of a banner thing called ComicAd.net, and while some of the ad spaces at times might push towards mature content, violent or weird dark stuff, that’s true of a few of my own things too that can on occasion be a bit adult in various ways and forms – dark (adult in sense of violence, gore, psychologically horrifying, or sexually suggestive, or ominous or uneasy, disturbing). Or now and then adult just as it is aimed at thoughtful adults, not idiot kids. (Adult in the sense of at times smart, sophisticated and verbally complex, not in the sense of offensive)

I pretty much chose a range of ad filters reflecting the most ‘adult’ my online stuff ever gets, and set filters to that. Mature but not flat out pornographic. So the ads will be a mix of stuff and some of that will be dark. And it is filtered automatically, not by me. It is a lot of indie art stuff, mainly online web comics. It operates with ad slots and a bidding system, so if you wanted to you could easily post your own ads on a bunch of slots across my websites. Just last two months these Crowdsourced Adventure and Astounding Worlds ad spaces all combined have typically raised 3-5 cents daily, despite the reality that not much exists on the related sites yet. I hope the launch of the actual game content leads to a near tenfold spike in visitor activity there and we see as a result something close to $0.50 a day being bid on the ads across these sites, as that is roughly $15/month and it is the lowball threshold where ongoing regular updates make any sense. It takes me 10 to 25 hours of work typically to make a moderately substantial new area or world for either game. I am aiming to earn over $4/hr doing this, any less and it just makes zero sense as I can already make over minimum wage on many other things I have going. Therefore, $40 to $100 raised between all ads on these sites and all other sales of them on itch.io, steam, epic… that is the target that funds a new world addition. If the ad slots manage $0.50 daily, that’s a smallish $40 world added to one of these two projects every 2.5 months.

And if you unexpectedly make a lot, like $10, daily, across all this?

There will be a funding pool for game dev. I have only so many hours in a day and these two projects will max out at two hours daily work each. Or… $16 a day. At that level, we may see significant nearly weekly updates. If income on this effort climbs above $20-25 a day for a while it means I will feel pretty safe to also divert a bit of it to other game dev project budgets as well… and donate some of the cash too. I certainly would love to see at least half the income over the $20 daily mark sent to charitable causes and used to solve real world problems. So… that is what I will do. And the goal’s not out of reach. Puzzle / adventure games that are open-ended and continually expanded like this are rare in gaming, and the reason they are rarely done is probably because the first big gaming attempt at a puzzle MMO flopped really badly despite strong reviews, lovely art direction and sound design, over $12 million in development prior to first launch circa end of 2003, and a recognizable adventure genre IP. (Myst Online, aka Uru) but it turned out, funny thing, even there if they scaled down to match a low end estimate of their playerbase audience they were eventually able to make it sustainable. Today Uru is back online and is operating sustainably purely on a donation based maintenance budget that is just enough to cover electrical bills, internet bandwidth, and occasional staff maintenance, or around $15,000 annually. And it has survived and remained online on such a budget for over a decade now. And it is even growing finally due to a few people making fan content and forwarding it to the Myst studio (Cyan) for inclusion on the servers.

So why is that relevant here?

Well, I’m actually a fan of what Cyan did with Uru in many ways. I find the Myst series inspiring creatively, aesthetically and was super impressed by the stuff the studio did in its ’90s heyday from a technical POV and frustrated when it all fell apart in the 2000s and sort of cautiously optimistic that they’d bounce back since then, which seems to be happening somewhat, despite one or two mediocre missteps like Firmament. But when Uru flopped, it killed the notion of ‘puzzles in multiplayer’ entirely for the entire games industry for ten years until the classic console title Journey in 2013, which promoted itself as an artful platformer, not as puzzle game or even as a game that had multiplayer. I also can see in retrospect that the entire adventure genre has unraveled over time and puzzlers with stories and real ambition are now rare. There were plenty of warning signs. Grim Fandango, circa 1996, is a genre classic but it sort of flopped out of the gate despite being one of the best adventure classics ever made. The Longest Journey was a marginally successful game despite being amazing, and its sequels chose to add clunky combat mechanics and then when that didn’t boost appeal on the second title just kind of gave up on puzzles and most gameplay mechanics almost completely in favor of just wrapping up the storyline fast in the third and final title. Syberia likewise limped along after the first title, with not a single entry in the series breaking into the mainstream. Those were in 2000, 2001. And every Myst title after the first for a good while was selling about half as well as the previous one regardless of quality. Myst (1993) sold 7 million copies. Riven sold about 4 million. Exile just shy of 2 million. By the time Uru came along the sales were in the low hundreds of thousands and only just over 30,000 even logged into the online part before it was axed by Ubisoft. When Portal revived the ‘dead’ idea of puzzles and innovated in puzzle design circa 2007 with a really cool concept underlying every puzzle setup, everybody bent over backwards to emphasize it as a platformer, not as a puzzle platformer. Puzzles were always the dorky thing nobody wanted to discuss in gaming circles. Puzzles were sudoku and match-3 and cheap junk. Bro gamers wanted to pretend they weren’t actually a thing that could be done well or that could work well. So when a game like the Talos Principle comes out (2014) and it’s one of the top ten sellers that year, and is excellent, and spawns a sequel last year (2023) that’s also excellent and is the first game to truly take advantage of Unreal Engine 5, we sort of try to ignore that. We try to ignore that to some extent the amazing parts of Tears of the Kingdom in 2023, one of the best games in recent memory, were not just related to physics but the use of physics in really inventive puzzle design that always offered multiple valid solutions, yeah, we kind of ignore it again. Everyone always tries to ignore it. We ignore it at our peril though. Game devs ignored Myst when it sold 7 million copies and topped annual PC sales charts three years in a row. (1993-1995) and it was in much the same way that they ignored The Sims when it finally broke that record and sold 14 million copies by 2002. Myst and The Sims are two VERY DIFFERENT games, but the common thread is they broke through to audiences who don’t normally play many games and got those audiences into gaming. They were well made games at the time, doing somewhat novel things nobody had been doing all that well previously, and they stumbled onto unexpected success by appealing to broad swaths of gamers, including many women, who normally were excluded from gamer culture. We dismiss a wide range of ‘boring, simplistic’ casual games, narrative games, puzzle games, or games that expand gaming to new and broader markets, at our peril as developers.

At a total ad revenue and/or sale revenue of 10% the current reduced Uru donation revenue, or a target of $1500/year, I am agreeing to make and actively build monthly expansions for, two different games, one with a roughly scifi focus, one more fantasy styled, that is a new world on each every month or 24 worlds yearly. These don’t match Cyan’s technical ambition. They are not multiplayer. Puzzles in mine will border on casual, to the point where some will describe these as walking sims in the same way “Gone Home” is often categorized as such despite it actually having some simple puzzles. They are more old school PnC adventure titles in some aspects. But the core appeal is there. Beautiful art direction, capable sound design, and even if puzzles are relatively simple, they’ll be greatly varied, along with the settings you can explore, which I feel is a lot of what I love about the Myst metaverse, just the variety and imagination in the scenes involved. Plus like those, I’ll lean heavy on that intangible sense of wornness, weatheredness, detailing that makes impossible places feel plausible, like they have history, and I’ll have many worlds with their own distinct storylines that can be uncovered. Some of these are unexpected and inventive storytelling in their own right. The first hub world in CrowdSourced Adventure, it’s a nice setup, but the first three concepts and the related puzzles and stories and the way the places, puzzles, and stories blend nicely and all three work, the three choices presented in poll one, are all ambitious, all interesting, and I’m entirely torn as to which one to pursue first. But that’s not up to me, it’s up to the players what the next release is!

See, the community forums and polling attached will be an engaging thing – as both Crowdsourced Adventure and Astounding Worlds will allow player communities to vote on updates over time, with little posted packages of concept ideas and design drawings, maps and terse text summaries, and polls allowing the community to decide which addition is most promising, and which should therefore be the next one to move forward. There will even be systems by which people can post their own concepts and ideas and if something sticks out as cool it may end up drifting up into the polling system in some form.

And while nobody ever has paid me $50-60 to make or even $10 to slightly customize, a world for them, even though that does exist as a product on Etsy and is pretty cool, maybe, just maybe, a couple thousand engaged players across two games might be enough to collectively raise that much just with related ads, even if the players themselves are not really paying anything individually.

And if you are concerned I’m hijacking Uru’s slim playerbase, note I have actual respect for them and as someone who respects them, will not hesitate to namedrop Uru. I’ve donated easily $300+ to Uru’s fund over the last decade. I feel that this post, which may take risks in mentioning many other noteworthy puzzlers and adventure titles, might get in trouble with the devs of those titles. I wish all of you to recognize I genuinely like that stuff, and that this post, and this game content, though taking some ideas from existing puzzlers… is not tied to them. My games here won’t connect to any of their trademarks or canon. It might, however, be a thing that causes people to realize those other historically significant puzzle games exist, which for younger people is truly not a given. I can see one reason Cyan seems to keep rereleasing Myst every 7 years or so in some new overhauled edition is that they want a way for old people who recall the game to share it with their kids or other younger family, in a way that won’t alienate them due to the archaic tech. They want to keep it accessible to younger generations who are just exploring the different types of gaming for the first time, all the zoomers and soon gen alpha kids who were born years after this was a thing. Every time they do this they seem to pick up a new wave of people who become fans. And this year the first Myst sequel, Riven, is also getting a huge remake. [launch later in 2024] and so on.

But if this isn’t enough, I will push further. If revenue from the ad slots and sales across all venues for (Crowdsourced Adventure) and (Astounding Worlds) exceeds $1000 by the end of summer 2024, I agree to commit to getting a full-blown Uru expansion out to the point where it can be played by the public by December this year. That’s all the stuff I worked on a little bit here and there beginning in 2014 with Sevkor. I had to completely rebuild that age, to fit the criteria of the Guild of Writers and use the new toolset Korman. The original version was pretty but inefficient, and later iterations underway are way more obsessively optimized, with a filesize of all texture and graphical data in the 40MB range, not 145MB+ and I’ve also worked on four other fan ages connected to that, which can result in a 300mb expansion with five ages of about 60mb each. They’ll run smoothly, they’ll look great, they have related lore and puzzles and I worry that the lore will be a holdup as it’s hard to tell any real story in the setting without triggering problems with the canon and fan age guidelines. Between lore and minor technical revisions and fixes to bugs people might discover, no guarantee of it all making it past Gehn shard to Minkata, much less the official servers, by end of 2024, but… just getting it all there to a point where it is all fully playable and looks, sounds good at all THIS YEAR will be tricky and involves a couple hundred hours additional work. I could keep kicking this fan stuff down the road and barely progressing on it. If it continues at the rate it’s gone so far, I’d say the ages maybe would be done in 2026. But if the Myst fandom can help boost my stuff, make it a hit a bit more out of the gate, I’ll definitely prioritize them as well over most of the 20-odd other backlogged slow moving things in my queue. It’s not just that I’m trying to cover my bills and somehow scrape together $10k+ from all sources this year to get off disability support entirely, and be self-supporting despite numerous mental health and other medical challenges, but the fact is I’m under some pressure to do so by family, friends, myself. I find it difficult to justify any fan art or no-profit creative work around the edges or any project that fails to make income. I’ve been quite clearly discouraged from any fan art by parents and others, in favor of maximizing hourly pay. I barely can justify even commercial indie game dev and only then on dubious claims that it might pay off. My stock media on itch.io, is slowed to a crawl because not many sales are taking place there. I’m making under a dollar per hour worked on stock media packs. Etsy? The papercraft is cool but is rarely selling. Most creative products sell poorly or not at all. Paintings – only half the paintings ever posted there have sold, usually discounted to levels where I make no more than $2.50 per hour worked on them. The one thing that is working is print services – posters, bookmarks, and so on. I make just over minimum wage on many of those listings. ($7.50/hr roughly) and that’d be good except that it is wildly inconsistent in volume and frequency of sales. Most days, zero, one, possibly two sales there. Then once in a while on a holiday time, usually the 45-60 days leading to Christmas it all goes nuts. I go from not enough sales to ten, fifteen a day and drown in overtime and refunding orders from people who I could not get the order done for in time… profit drops almost to zero, maybe goes somewhat negative with some scathing feedback, despite enormous effort and workload as seen in late 2023. How I wish Etsy could hold steady at 5-6 orders a day year round. If I somehow had THAT, I’d be making the requisite 10k from that alone already.

It is NOT for lack of trying to make things happen. I have so many product lines and ventures in the pipeline and they’re not stalled even if they may seem like it, they are all moving slowly forward. I’ve been working at least 10-11 hours a day across all this, at a pay of around $1/hr and change overall, which comes out to about $4k, possibly $5k earned a year on a good recent year. Get the pay rate up to near $2.50/hr and I’m good. THAT is what I need to get off disability. But I don’t make that much and most things in development have not taken off yet for those products launched, or aren’t even released yet. I am trying. 75 hours a week working on creative stuff is trying. It’s not working. And I get nobody will ever hire me. I can’t just ‘get a job’ because autism and mental disorders and lack of recent work history and other stupid red flags always trump the fact that I’m wildly creative, hardworking, skilled, and will work for super low pay in even really technically complex jobs.

That’s the reality. If these games somehow succeed post-release that WILL be huge for me. It’ll even be huge for the entire adventure genre, and the world more broadly.

BONUS: IF, between these two games and everything else, I exceed $10k in earnings for 2024, anything above $10k will be donated. I will donate to lifesaving charities, as a result of this success. And every year after, over 50% of all my earnings above that 10k mark. I will be SO thrilled to be that guy who somehow clawed his way off of govt. support through sheer effort and paid taxes, would be nice for my self-esteem and would be good for the world too.

NOT trying to be rich. NEVER want to be. I am asking for support and for someone to hire me for gigs just because I am trying to stay afloat financially on the cheap and retain creative freedom and help make the world better. This grind is not to make a fortune, it’s to make art and games and do so with a minimum of interference and fewer creative limitations, while also assisting others to survive, thrive, fulfill their own dreams in the process.

Etsy, itch.Io and other topics

News item #1 – I’m working on a bunch of things on itch.IO including updates to existing 3d asset packs, a massive overhaul of the older textures from 2013, a new European texture pack [built from photography I took myself in Austria, Switzerland and Germany due to a trip I was invited on in 2023] and a North Africa/Middle East 3d asset pack. Now, despite attempting to have that all in place for a launch sale at the very end of January, clearly that fell apart as the end of that month approached. Everything’s fallen behind (so far, so typical) but I’m still working on all these things and they should be done in February now, not January. Some of them are really close now.

News item #2 – Etsy activity’s slowed dramatically post-2023. That means I have more time to work on asset collections and new product creation (papercraft kits and more) for Etsy, work on website updates which is not trivial, there’s a ton of outdated stuff online and things which need overhauling, fixing. And then on top of all of that, a bit of video reworking for a relaunch of HornbostelVideos.com soon, and ongoing work on a list of game dev projects. So really about 20 broad efforts in progress, each with a list of usually a few dozen subtasks [give or take] like making a really good new textured 3d model start to finish, or processing a batch of texture maps in a subfolder, reworking a web page, etc… the sort of things that can take maybe 3-5 hours each to get done. There are something like 1200 of these tasks queued. In time terms, it’s easily a year or more of stuff to do even setting aside the unknowns like how many people will place print orders on Etsy – orders that finance other work but also add to the queue and delay everything else in terms of the timing. If Etsy sale activity slows, as it has slowed lately, that is the time to try to get some of those tasks in the queue churned through. And I’ve been doing just that, including the creation of a few new paintings to fill in Etsy shop categories which were a bit sparse. I made some relationship/romance themed art recently for the purpose of Valentine’s Day but now it’s too late for that stuff to be shipped to anyone by that day… nonetheless I’ll show you that now.

rings, roses, lace. acrylic painting on Etsy. 11×14 inches. All the artworks seen in this post are this size or smaller, and all are priced well below $20. Especially if on sale.
Two lovebirds forming a heart shape, with irises.

News item #3) I’m going to be keeping sale discounts fairly modest on the popular Etsy print service listings from now on – usually only 10-20% discounts, at most, with other items that nobody really ever buys, sometimes going to as low as 25, 30, 45% off, possibly 50% in very rare cases. We’ll note – custom bookmark designs, poster prints, the most typically purchased stuff that sold constantly in 2023, all those things are now about 12-18% more expensive than they were at the end of 2023. So even when on sale, they’ll never drop as low as they did during the Halloween 2023 sale.

That – massive discounts across the shop at the time of a holiday spike in activity – was a disastrous incident, and it won’t happen again. Not only will the products that sold TOO FAST for me to keep up with demand no longer be as cheap, but the sales that do occur will usually not coincide with big end-of-year holidays ever again. So if you want a thing relating to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Christmas or New Years… don’t expect any discounts at any of those times. Do expect occasional random sales to appear seemingly out of nowhere and disappear just as unexpectedly, at seemingly random points not tied to any major holidays. This will drive many people nuts but the hope is to even out activity year-round to whatever extent is possible. And not announcing the start or end widely? Helps smooth out buying activity. Part of why the prior sales went horribly was the massive awareness of the sale coming up, and its end day and a rapid surge of buyers all in a single day right before sale end. This sort of wildly uneven buyer activity concentrated in just a handful of days out of the entire year, meant that there were weeks of nothing happening, and weeks where I was so flooded with orders that many of those were severely, unacceptably delayed. I wound up refunding hundreds of dollars of orders and sending a massive volume of apology messages to worried, upset people. If you are following my social media accounts closely you might see a bit of info on imminent sales once in a while in one spot or another, but mostly it won’t be widely displayed. I will say this – there are going to be two sales on Etsy this month. One of them is pretty short, and it is just starting right about now. The other lasts a few days, and is later in February.

Again, the links I discussed:



Halloween sale, a victim of its own success


The Halloween sale resulted in a huge surge of activity, even entirely unprecedented, by the time it ended [midnight, Oct. 31] with multiple new orders showing up every hour in the last six or seven hours of [Halloween] and that settled down a few days later, to a somewhat normal level of activity by Nov. 5-6. Even Nov. 1-4 though saw highly elevated levels of activity AFTER the sale had ended – anywhere from 6-10 orders placed daily on top of the nearly 20 orders on the final sale day itself.

I managed, in short, nearly a thousand dollars in transactions in ONE WEEK. Sounds great, right?

No. It was largely a cataclysmic disaster.

The reason why is simple: I cannot fulfill more than 4 or 5 large orders per day. The time in a day to do more than that simply isn’t there – I’ve spent about a hundred hours working on turning around orders since the morning of Oct. 31st to the morning of Nov. 9. Like every waking hour. Only now – on Nov. 9, have I finally caught up on shipments.

So… about 50 orders from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6. Most fell several days behind on shipment, some painfully more than that. I opted for a first in, first out fulfillment pattern for the most part. Which meant, in general, nearly all orders were shipped late, especially those that were in or near to, the end of Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 timeframe. Lots of those took about a week or so to ship. Way beyond the ‘3 business dyas’ claim that has typically applied on the shop in the past.

As a result: About a dozen orders fully refunded, another 20 or so saw shipping upgrades to make up for lost time.

I have actually lost a bit at this time in all, in the wake of a sale that was supposedly a dramatic success with $900+ in orders, and a hundred or so hours of work on my end. It comes out to around -$.0.39 in net gain per hour worked. It’s entirely unsustainable. The last ten days, fielding upset messages regarding delays, printing large batches of things and packing and shipping. And I was not making money doing any of this. I lost money on a ten day stretch during which this stress consumed the entire ten days.

Shipping was another issue. I had set up an account on Stamps.com, but had issues integrating it with Etsy which meant tracking I saw had to be copied to customers, but perhaps more significantly, not only did buyers not immediatly see shipment had occurred, Etsy itself as a platform failed to see the fact as well, so as a reuslt of both this – widespread shiping delays and issues – and gaps/lags in communication, among other difficulties keeping up, I have lost ‘Star Seller’ designation on Etsy moving forward. Which is deserved, I get it.

I tried, I worked my butt off the last ten days, but even so… maybe not enough. Should I have gone without sleep? Maybe. But that’s not sustainable. Will I get a pile of mixed or negative ratings in the next few days? Likely. I understand why. I tried to communicate but did not always do that often enough given the sheer volume of messages. I tried to turn all the orders around but again, just too many in too short a timeframe.


-I’ve adjusted pricing upward on bookmarks, at least… the bookmarks that allow customization to be requested from me. Simply put, there are buyers who request a lot of Photoshop editing and various design ideas be pursued, in various directions, on bookmark designs before they choose a design they like and that moves forward. That sort of order always is more time consuming for me than a simple customer who says, “I have a design already, that I made myself, can you print it on some bookmarks?” So the two types of situations are now being made two separate listings, and the more difficult of the two is roughly $8 more expensive in general. The bookmarks had exploded from a completely unknown listing four months ago to – as of the past month – 45% of sale activity. So adjusting even this one thing will solve a lot.

-Aside from that one price increase in one of the two parts of a product split, all items in general besides tyhe bookmarks are 4% more expensive from here on out – another slight incremental price increase along with others over the last few years. Pricing increases, broadly, aren’t meant to punish buyers, but they do filter out a few of those who aren’t serious and allow me to keep up with the buyers who remain after that.

-I’ll be reducing the discounts on Thanksgiving/Christmas sales to minimum. Sales during holidays are always crazy and the 30% off or more across the board over Halloween caused a deranged mass of acitivity, Plans now: small sales on holidays, bigger sales during otherwise slow stretches, and a word of advice to buyers in general, is please DO NOT WAIT TO THE FINAL HOUR OF THE FINAL DAY OF EVERY SALE! That happened with the Halloween sale, people who ordered during the first four or five days of it usually got their orders deliverd on time, those who waited to the end right before it was over, saw massive delays because EVERYONE was doing the exact same thing. Basically I’d like to even out orders over time. So… watch for the bigger sales to occur here and there in times of 2024 when nothing whatsoever seemingly justifies them. Like, the stretches where no holidays are present, might see surprise discounts of 30-45% on things. But don’t be shocked or whatever, when the Thanksgiving and Christmas sales end up having milder discounts of 10-20%. It’s all some sort of attempt on my part to even out patterns of purchasing activity over the long term.

TLDR: Only place orders during the Thanksgiving/Christmas sales if you want things before Christmas. If the item is not time-sensitive, consider waiting to early 2024 as there will be deepr discounts during otherwise slow spans then. Definitely DO not wait til the end of sale events either. You might get caught up in a nightmare of the “Halloween 2023′ sort where your item arrives a week later than is initially estimated. THIS WILL BE A RISK PRIOR TO CHRISTMAS!

I’M NOT GIVING UP ON ETSY but am definitely learning – the hard way! – from mistakes!

I’m really sorry to everybody who saw their packages delayed. I am. Some of them haven’t even reached the buyers yet even if they are one the way now as of this morning or some other point over the past few days.

Revised sale planning:

Nov. 10-14, Pre-Thanksgiving sale – 10-25% off most items.

Nov. 22-Dec. 6, Pre-Christmas sale, 10-15% off most items.

Jan. 1-10, New Year’s sale, 20-40% off most items.



Halloween Etsy sale active!

In acknowledgement of the fact that the October Halloween sale is going on, and that all Etsy items are temporarily 30+% off, I’ve updated the sale info page of this site accordingly:

Astonishing Etsy Bargains! (hornbostelproductions.com)

It seems to be a big deal somehow – 90 people, sometimes over a hundred, are showing up each day now that the sale’s begun. And yes, this sale event encompasses my birthday. I’m turning 37 this October. I’m getting old.

If you want this to be a good birthday for me, or a good Christmas for my family, or you just want to make me able to donate more to *actual* worthy causes, want to help with my launching of more completed projects (videos, video games, stock media packs, new print products, papercraft sets, whatever it is I’m doing or working on that’s going to make backing the shop worthwhile in your eyes, well, you can get some AWESOME discounts right now on a wide range of things you’ll love to have, while also helping me to further goals I care about and that will assist my family, friends, and the world.

MatthewLHornbostel – Etsy

Thanks so much, everyone!

Here are some greeting cards that are one of the many things on sale that’ve taken off suddenly like crazy despite the fact that I only released them very recently. These big, glossy greeting cards are currently a dollar each:

One dollar per card! Less for a three-pack! And I’ll include an envelope with any future cards in the mailer, a big one that can hold what is admittedly a larger than typical Christmas card.
Just released, nobody’s bought one yet, but these 6″ by 9″ sticker name tags (for trick or treaters) are on sale under $1 each. They can have whatever name[s] and text color you want, so easy stuff for tacking onto a candy container for people on the street to identify the name of your little ghost/goblin if that’s useful.
It astonishes me just how rapidly this listing took off. There are a dozen people with custom bookmarks in cart at the moment, on my Etsy shop. But not too hard to understand why. A lot of people want custom bookmarks and either have their own designs or want one put together. And at under $1 for a bookmark plus shipping, the current sale pricing on this listing is really hard to ignore. The prices even drop steadily from there as the number of copies rises, currently going under $0.40 per bookmark (!) with sufficient volume, during the sale.
Also, there’s a super-colorful preset batch of bookmarks, with my own archive of art paintings printed differently on front and back of eight. No customization but it’s under $1.50 during this sale – for a set of EIGHT of these art bookmarks.

The four above examples? They’re just a few of the 50+ active listings. Seriously, go look at the shop right now, it’s crazy how good the pricing is on everything for the rest of October 2023.


A recently posted new painting. Acrylic on canvas. Mojave desert imaginary scene. On sale, 45% off. $15 + shipping.
The best ‘promotional boost’ package there, is now on sale at just $45. That bundle includes a shipment of 250 double-sided business cards with your design or a custom one built in Photoshop based on your input, hundreds of custom flyers, plus an online promotion to 75,000+ people via search and banner ads, from someone who actually has some experience in making that stuff work in finding people. I mean, you ran across my site, didn’t you? 😉

The stock media stuff has struggled out of the gate – there’s a scathing review of the video VFX pack which ultimately has been pulled off the shop to be redone completely at some point. The textures have some (far fewer, but some) issues as a collection too, but a HUGE update’s due to the collection within the next 20 days. An update that’s been in the works seemingly forever but… it involves over a hundred more materials and scattered enhancements to the first thousand textures in the collection which bring those up fully to modern standards. As PBR surfaces, they’ll just look better, which has to do with a ton of careful manual editing I’m doing, and some clever cutting-edge AI processes for upscaling and depth solving. As for the video (VFX) collection and that – the only negative review I have on my Etsy account out of 180+ total reviews… yeah, it’s true, many of those clips are pretty much unusable these days. Standard-def footage is useless to many video editors and is, as stated, blurry. Set aside the several ‘shaky’ clips that are not easily usable for that reason and the main issue is resolution/blurriness of the bulk of the material. You all, I spent a few hundred $ shooting all that stuff but much of it is years old. Like, in some cases, as old as 2011-2013. So yeah, the budget-range cameras of that era were not good enough to grab footage useful by modern standards. It’s why much of that stuff’s gone freeware at this point on https://matthornb.itch.io [the TACC2018 page] and I hope you don’t hold that older video material against me.

That said: I am working towards some modern 3d rendered physics-sim elements in 4k so hopefully when that is out it’ll make up for the flaws of the old stuff. Well, that and the texture and 3d asset pack updates inbound.

And I’m still working on a HornbostelVideos website update and it’s been slow in coming but I think I’ve got the design right this time. It’s a very tricky thing, setting up a video site that needs to not only hold close to a hundred videos with room to grow from there, but in a way that is intuitive to navigate AND has to be responsive, i.e it must read clearly even on a cheap phone screen that’s as little as 300-400 pixels wide. I’ve currently got the new design set up to look good on low res screens, medium res, and high res full-HD. I won’t advise you to watch on your phone, I’d prefer a good tablet or iPad or a desktop/laptop but people do watch stuff on phones and I have to be able to handle that!

News on numerous fronts will be posted here between now and the end of 2023. Keep an eye out for cool stuff. That’s all for now I guess.

Quick note – July 2023

Etsy July 4 sale is over.

But there are still deals to be had on my Etsy shop for those willing to place a larger order. Right now until end of July, the following rules apply shop wide:

10% off all orders over $20.

15% off all orders over $30.

Free shipping on all orders over $35 (this has been true for years and will remain true after July)

20% off all orders over $45.

25% off orders over $60

30% off orders over $75.

If you want to buy a ton of items – custom print orders of large scale, etc, this is a good opportunity to do so.

When this July opportunity is over, we’ll head into August and throughout August the deal shifts into a similarly experimental ‘flash deal mode’ – daily deals become the norm – with a random number generator picking five really random listings to discount by equally random amounts anywhere in the range from 5-55%. Every night at midnight the set of discounted listings will change. Could be fun and if you time it right it’s entirely possible you could nab a ridiculous deal on an item you want at some point that month!

Finally, early September is Labor Day sale time, and *everything* will be over 15% off. Exact numbers TBD but… certain listings that have gone nowhere for a long time will see drastic discounts of up to 70%. That is pretty nuts!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MatthewLHornbostel – once again, here is the Etsy link.

Updates, May 2023

First big thing you need to know is that Vivid Minigolf is being postponed to late summer 2023. I mean, it was already becoming obvious that Spring 2023 was unlikely, given the absence of any sort of Steam page, but now it’s even clearer.

I cannot guarantee online multiplayer as a summer feature, even. There is a build for that and for now it’s only implemented in one course, and even there it has some really tricky-to-solve bugs in certain cases. There are two courses out of seven that don’t even have fully implemented working hotseat modes, and it’s going to be a ton of work to complete and debug hotseat functionality for those two, even more to get all seven courses working in online multiplayer terms. So the probable launch timeframe now is some time in August. The price is likely to be $3.99 at launch. I’ve seen the strategy docs from other indie devs and pro-level developers too, and it’s clear that the ideal pricing for an indie title is usually in the $10-20 range or even for high end, more polished indies higher than that ($20-35). It’s been noted that overall, higher-priced indies make more total sales AND more cash per sale.

And that’s great BUT the more I consider this, the clearer it is that my goal with this was never to maximize income. I’m fine with a ‘failed’ launch [in business terms] and under 7000 wishlists at time of release. [which means not visibly appearing anywhere near top of ‘upcoming’ charts the week of release.]

My whole model of business is focused on underpricing, always has been. The reason my print services on Etsy are so popular is that they’re only half the price of other vendors AT MOST. This improves reviews, as people get better work from me than they expect. Prices need only be enough to break even plus a tiny extra margin that will allow me to keep building new product lines.

So know that I seriously considered prices ranging from $4.99-8.99 for a release of ‘Vivid Minigolf’ and settled on $3.99. It’s going to gradually drop from there too, during sales. I hope the reduced price results in more positive reviews and more impulse-buy sales, but who knows… I intend to lag the free version 30 months behind the paid version. Which is to say, if you wait for 2.5 years, everything I released for $3.99 will be available for free on VividMinigolf.com, i.e. early 2026. But by the time that’s happened I’m hoping the game will have had multiple substantial free DLC additions on the paid version on top of the initial launch, so that the paid version will always have some amount of new content that the free edition does not.

ETSY – I’ve had a rocky stretch here as I had to replace my large-format printer very recently. The purchase has pretty much wiped out my budget for the next month or so, which is a reason for not only a few delays for specific Etsy buyers in the past week but it also limits my options for the summer – I cannot easily complete my physics-sim toolset setup now, so despite some enthusiasm relating to that it must wait. In the meantime any ‘stock media’ focus will be on the texture and 3d asset updates, I’m overhauling a lot of the TACC2018 textures [the gigantic batch from 2013] and that is to say, many of the depth maps are improved to look more realistic, many textures AI-upscaled, all the seamless edges are consistent [automated actions in PS to clean seams in the exact same way for each texture where there’s inconsistency in seams between the different PBR maps], every texture exists in powers of two [eg. taking the occasional 750×750 texture and making it 1024×1024 or whatever]

Here are a few examples of textures – diffuse, opacity, displacement/normal, etc – applied to quads, out of the hundreds of materials included, these specifically are some examples in the ‘architecture’ category:

I’ve also got a ton of 3d assets in development and those updates, while delayed, are nearly there and should go live in early June now. The itch.IO asset collections are still selling reasonably well, enough to justify ongoing effort. I’ve spent hundreds of hours, hundreds of $ working on all this stuff and have made about $200 of that back – which isn’t ideal, but it’s enough support from all of you to be encouraging and to persuade me to keep trying. The most expensive part (in cash, not in time) was the stock footage, and I’ve been told it’s basically inadequate despite the effort, as the camera gear most of that was recorded on is not high enough resolution for it to be useful for any video VFX above 720p. In particular, the stuff in TACC2018, much of that’s SD quality and basically unusable for modern video, so it’ll be posted as freeware at about the same time the texture-collection update goes live. Basically, when one part of the collection is improved, another will go freeware. Seems reasonable.

Further sale activity on Etsy and Itch.IO will help me get a new physics sim pipeline fully up and running soon, so in theory I should be able to upgrade the VFX video elements, phasing out more and more of the older content into freeware packs, and making more of the new stuff accessible at the typical $1-3 price range per collection. I’ll also keep the Etsy listings expanding into new areas with new products posted. Some of what I had hoped for for Mother’s Day was not ready in time, due largely to the printer disruption, but should be in place around Memorial Day-Fathers Day. Memorial Day is May 29.

Please consider buying something then, and letting others know this stuff exists. I won’t have much of a promotional budget this summer which means my shops will depend on occasional search traffic and existing customer base, I’ll basically be throwing a game I spent hundreds of hours of work making, and $700+ in cash, out onto Steam with basically no promotion, no fanfare. I hope it goes well but it likely won’t. Still, I’ll update it and support it to whatever extent I am able to, even if the playerbase turns out to be very small. Know the obvious: The sales of bundles on itch.IO do include future indie games, not just massive piles of stock media for gamedevs. And that means you CAN preorder Vivid Minigolf and get a lot of extra for about $2.50 during Memorial Day. I think about 20 people have already done so.




Etsy shop is rebounding

Bouquets of paper flowers, in little mini pots. $4.49 each + shipping.

My Etsy shop was supposed to be leveling off and headed into the background, supposedly. 

I raised pricing noticeably… to the extent that the shop is not only profitable but that margin is nearly doubled. 

I also pretty much stopped promoting it with paid ad campaigns outside of Etsy.

Figured that would hold onto some of the existing, happy customer base, but not all of it, and limit the flow of new buyers, who in some cases are unpredictable, maybe difficult to deal with. 

Well, what happened wasn’t a decline or a leveling off but a boom. The existing customers pretty much all kept ordering. And the new customers kept showing up despite my removal of ads leading into Etsy, but now the customers were arriving passively through Etsy itself at increasing rates. I realized that the reason was a temporary spike in the percentage of visitors who were buying, and apparently that metric spiking led Etsy as a platform to boost my listings and their visibility, including through the Etsy search ads you cannot opt out of. Beyond all this, my revenue has almost quadrupled, hitting $50-60/week in gains due to the pricing change, the lack of ad costs, and an uptick in buyers and to a lesser extent traffic generally. And… I’m just gonna roll with it now.

Yes, I’ve gotten a Cricut. Yes, I’m releasing a line of mini floral bouquets soon and they’ll start off at $4.49 each, then probably go up a bit once there are some reviews of them piled up. Most things on my Etsy are like that – the most underpriced stuff is almost always the stuff nobody is buying or reviewing yet.

I also have a ‘Greek architecture’ papercraft kit on the way, plus extension of all existing papercraft sets to O scale and T scale in about a month, and an upcoming option for precut kits at least with N, Z scale by June.

Yes, a few new paintings are being made. That’s not high priority but it’s still going on.

Yes, there was a Cinco De Mayo sale and everything was 15% off.

Yes, there’s a Mother’s Day sale coming up really soon (May 7-15) and everything will be at least 23% off throughout it. Some items are going to be over 30% off.

No, most sales in the future won’t have discounts quite that good. 

Yes, I’m seeing 60 visitors daily on the shop lately. About half of them on any given day are probably new visitors.

Yes, I’ve had 75 people favorite the shop, up from 50 at the end of 2022.

And yes, I do have big plans elsewhere too. I’m working on some major stock media updates, for example, and a revised HornbostelVideos.com site design with a ton of additional video material, which goes live soon. 

Thanks everybody, really excited about this actually and figure it’ll be a big deal in terms of overhauling and improving existing content and adding a lot of new things too.

One more note – an eBay auction is also going on, lots of action cameras in a bundle starting at $49 with no added shipping cost. Take a look here if interested.

Reopening Etsy physical shipments?

I am considering reopening Etsy printing services during Spring 2023 after all the moving is complete, ie by May 2023.

Some caveats:

-Minimal promotion of the Etsy shop. My aim is less to aggressively expand to new buyers who may or may not be happy with my work, and instead to focus on continuing fulfilling orders for the 50 or so repeat buyers who have generally been happy with what I’ve done and are usually easy to work with. These people have asked me to return and I’m genuinely considering doing so.

I spent *hundreds* promoting my Etsy in 2022 and many of the people who were drawn in were upset with the outcome for various often finicky reasons, demanded refunds. So by limiting active promotion, I not only expect to have a higher proportion of happy customers, and fewer upset one off people, but less promotional cost as well. This all makes the shop more likely consistently profitable and well regarded even if its rate of growth is limited, for 2023.

-Other notes, I still have a Greek papercraft kit in development, and several potential paintings. So the reopened physical items are not just shipped prints, BTW, they include the papercraft and handmade art as well – and better still, other new products that may surprise everyone. The copy paper will soon have a 13*19 option, a new cutting system for arbitrary sizes of prints will soon exist, there may even be a precut option for papercraft kits* pre scored with a Cricut!

Longer term, sizes above 13*19 are also possible. That will take a while to happen though. I do have plans to someday acquire a printer capable of printing up to 24″ by 48″, among other pretty cool things.

In other news: Yes, Vivid Minigolf is moving forward, yes it will be released by end of May 2023 barring a surprise huge setback. And while I am starting off with Steam, Itch.IO, Gamejolt… I may be adding the Epic Games Store to that list. Epic’s storefront is pretty huge, they’re making entry easier for indies now, and they only take 12% of sales, vs. 30% on Steam. So they will be a serious option to look at.

Prior to any of that: March 17, that’s six days from now, is St. Patrick’s Day, and on that day, just for 24 hrs, I’ll be doing another giant bundle sale through Itch.IO. Check that out here.

That is also when something new and cool might happen – that day may yet see:

-a patch and update to the furniture collection of 3d assets. (very likely, near certain)

-some new imagery relating to Vivid Minigolf (very likely)

-maybe even the launch, finally, of a Vivid Minigolf Steam Page? (somewhat likely)

That particular sale event could be really big for a few reasons. But mainly the fact that I’ve backed it with a $20 ad campaign and also some free link building efforts – posts on social media, YouTube comments, forum signatures, etc.

There’s also a little page on this site that’s seen a hundred views to date, focused on this exact sale event:


So this could get interesting. I hope it goes well.

Ending Etsy Printing Services

The shippable items on Etsy are gone and I’m sure many of you noticed that.

At the moment only digital delivery products are still present there.

Maybe you are upset by this and want them back – I may offer them again at some point but no guarantees for now. If they do reappear that might be mostly on this site (the HornbostelProductions.com shop) instead of Etsy. That would mean similar pricing but more profitability as it would be outside of Etsy’s steadily rising fee structure.

Why would I ditch an Etsy product line that was taking off and proving highly successful? Well, there are three major reasons.

  1. Etsy printing services are not super creative and not what I most want to be doing. Cutting that off allows me to focus more of my time on other projects. For example, game dev stuff, and the imminent launch of a massively expanded HornbostelVideos website.
  2. Etsy wasn’t only time consuming, it was a bit stressful trying to ship batches of packages out on a daily basis. Other (digital) products are different in that I can step back from working on them when I’m getting upset/stressed instead of feeling like I have to keep working through the misery to get stuff out for the mail truck when it swings by.
  3. Final note there is the fact that this year I’ll be moving to a new house. It’s in Sewickley, PA. So that move is going to disrupt any possible work and shipping regardless for the next 2-3 months.
  4. I don’t need the Etsy money at this point, not really. I’ve gotten a mild boost in income in spots outside of Etsy so will likely be able to leverage THAT now instead of Etsy print sales and still make nearly the same amount. It’s enough cash saved or flowing in that I am in a good spot to complete things like Vivid Minigolf. That project, has two courses I still haven’t yet built or implemented, plus various remaining minor bugs across otherwise completed ones. But if I push on that now I can definitely still get it onto Steam by mid March 2023. For various reasons, I will ignore mainstream advice relating to Steam releases. There have been talks about how ‘optimal pricing’ for indie games is $15-20. Now in this case, I don’t care if the cash coming in is ‘optimal’. I mostly just want the game to be accessible and playable for people and I want players to have fun. I considered a $5.99 price point for a while but have shifted my views on this. Current price point at launch is now likely to be in the $3 range instead.

So basically:

Vivid Minigolf launch is early 2023, on Itch.IO and Steam at a price of $2.75. It will go on sale too with increasingly solid discounts as months pass, eventually dropping as much as 75-80% off which is to say, about 50 cents. Plus there will be DLC every once in a while, at no additional cost. There will also be a free version on the game’s official site which lags roughly a year behind the paid version in content terms. And it has a few ads spaced around it on the webpage. When the game first launches that free version will have one course included, so for the first year it’s essentially a demo. But at the end of year one, by that point the Steam version will have some free DLC and the free version will lag behind said DLC and just have the core seven courses. And so on. Eventually, by 2026 or 2027, DLC updates will likely be over and the free version will fully catch up with the paid one and at that point the ‘paid’ Steam game will go freeware. It’s up to you whether paying $2.75 at launch is worth it, or under $1 about nine months after that, or NOTHING AT ALL but you would need to wait four years.

Astounding Worlds (previously Panoramic Worlds) is now set up for status as an Itch.IO and AstoundingWorlds.com exclusive, free plus optional tip on Itch.Io, and free with a few ads on the official site. That and the minigames like Spiral Skies, Easely, Eracer, and Vortex, all will go live in Summer 2023. The entire batch will be accessible for $1 on Itch (or) free with ads on the official game site in the case of Astounding Worlds.

Miniature Multiverse should be ready to launch by November 2023. It will be priced similarly to Vivid Minigolf.

After all that, who knows? I’m open to going heavily into reimagining other backburner projects from World Pinball to Isola, to a Troop 4 adventure and some fangame stuff.

But the bottom line on all of this is it’s all greenlit and moving forward faster now. I can afford to get all these projects done. Watch for exciting updates ahead!