Ten Ton Hammer: What were some of the biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?
I enjoy the technical challenge and although I’ve been in over my head
a few times, that’s not where I lose the most sleep. The biggest
challenge has been just putting myself out there. Feedback from players
and critiques can put you on an emotional rollercoaster. Many players
don’t necessary know or care that it’s just one guy who made the game.
They just want entertainment value and even if the game is free, their
time is valuable. With so many players there is constant pressure to
deliver that can’t be escaped other than to put my head down, do the
work and try to remember that I’m really lucky.
Ten Ton Hammer: How many people are playing the game now?
How do you make Unicorns cool... Fire Unicorns!
We get about 1.5 million unique visitors every month across all of our games. Sherwood Dungeon
gets just over a million unique players per month.
Ten Ton Hammer: How many can the server support?
have three game servers and each can comfortably handle around 3000
players. Right now we peak at about 1500 to 2000 concurrent users per
server depending on the day of the week.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is the hardware personally owned & maintained or are you set up commercially?
rent self managed dedicated servers from Server Beach. This makes it
easy to retire older hardware and we can easily add new servers as our
bandwidth requirements go up. We have 11 servers dedicated to web, game
or database applications and push about 30 terabytes of data every
month. Because we’re a small operation, I’ve tried to keep the servers
as simple and streamlined as possible with multiple layers of
redundancy to cover any surprises.
Ten Ton Hammer: Why the choice now to step it up and start publicity for it?
This was actually because of Ten Ton Hammer. I’m a frequent visitor to your site and noticed we were missing in action from your list of 350 MMOs despite the fact that we have a larger player base and longer history than many of the games on the list. This really hammered the point home to me that we were doing an especially bad job at getting the word out to the press about who we are and what we’ve been up to. Many of the larger game companies issue a press release every time something even remotely interesting happens with one of their games. Sherwood may be a quirky, independent, underground cult game but we are also one of the more established veterans in the browser MMO space and in retrospect we should have been making more of an effort with publicity all along.
Ten Ton Hammer: Where do you see the game going from here?
I’m going to stick with the same process and continue to evolve the game through small updates. We don’t talk much about updates before they are released or discuss specifics about what’s in the works and new features usually just appear in the game without advanced notice or hype. This way there’s no false expectations and it’s just a nice surprise. Players can often get a sense of what’s on my priority list from the on-going conversations on the Facebook page, particularly when I ask for feedback on aspects of the game. No player community speaks with one voice, so it’s always a tricky balancing act. I try to be transparent about the process and don’t treat the players like they are idiots. When I’m forced to make a controversial choice, whether or not they agree, at least there’s an understanding about how I reached that decision. I’m over simplifying how complex this can be, but after six years I’ve gotten a little better at it.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you'd like to tell readers about the game or the development of it?
Sherwood is designed to be playable either in a small window, typical
of a web game or full screen, more like a boxed MMO. We have a
liberal linking policy and provide code so that any website can embed
Sherwood and the other games on their site so long as the ad is visible
under the game. With hundreds of sites linking in, we’ve ended up with
an ad-hoc distribution network rather than relying on a major game
portal. This also means that Sherwood guilds and clans can include the
game itself as part of the content of their guild site. So if you want Sherwood Dungeon
on your website, let me know.
Our thanks to Gene for taking the time to discuss Sherwood Dungeon with us. You can find check out the game by clicking here.