The video games industry is rough. Across all the different consoles and digital storefronts there are thousands of games that come out every week. Games are complex, expensive machines: each title represents months or years of work by teams of every conceivable size. This makes the cost of a market failure enormous. Given these numbers, there is only room for a tiny fraction of new titles to find success.
Despite all that, we’ve confidently invested the last year and a half of our studio’s efforts into our newest game, Levelhead (out now!), and are still feeling confident about its chances (most of the time, anyway!). That confidence comes in no small part from our web tech.
The question of how to stack the dice in our favor for every game launch has been at the forefront of our business and development efforts since my two brothers and I started our studio, Butterscotch Shenanigans. We’d had some initial success with our second title, which has been played by millions of people, but we had no way to reach out to those players to bring them into future games. We realized that the only way to roll success forward for future launches was to make web tech a foundation of our fledgling studio, so that we could give our players awesome stuff in exchange for permission to send them emails when we launch new titles.
None of us were web developers, so I rolled up my sleeves and learned on the job. I started where so many web developers do, with the good old LAMP stack. I put together a user system, called BscotchID, that allowed our players to sync their data across devices and platforms, and even unlock content in one of our games by completing challenges in other of our games. These are features that few games had at the time, and still few games have today. The last title we launched with BscotchID now has 500,000 registered users — so we made great progress towards the problem of reducing our risk for future game launches.
Despite all that, BscotchID was just a bundle of janky (though functional and secure!) code that was not scalable, very hard to maintain, and filled to the brim with the kinds of things you’d expect from a novice web developer. That wasn’t going to cut it for our newest title, Levelhead, since Levelhead allows users to make and share game levels with each other. That means a lot of data moving around.
And so it was time to replace BscotchID with something new. Something modern and scalable. Something that, most importantly, would let me (still our only web developer) spend my time on all our unique business logic without having to worry about things other experts have already solved. My tools had to either help me or stay out of the way, and so I went on a search to figure out what database solution would be true to those needs.
I knew that I didn’t have time to develop the expertise needed to deploy and maintain a bulletproof, scalable, secure, and reliably-backed-up database myself, and so I went looking for people who could solve that for me. The staff at ObjectRocket were delightful to talk with, answered every question I could imagine, and seemed to genuinely want to help us out despite the fact that we would no doubt be one of their smallest clients. Then, as now, ObjectRocket has never been stingy with their time or advice. I can’t stress the importance of that enough: our small company size and startup status causes most companies to give us the cold shoulder.
In the end, the decision was simple. We didn’t just want a faceless database host. We wanted a business partner, one who would treat us well no matter our scale, and one that would let us focus on what we do best without having to worry about the safety of our players’ data. ObjectRocket checks all those boxes.
Levelhead is out now. Go check it out!