Beehive Games 2023 — the what, when and why
I wanted to talk about my little Indie Games company Beehive Games and have a sort of perma-post that i will link to directly from the website.
At time of writing, Beehive Games is coming up to around 5 years old where we have released 3 or 4 itch.io/kartridge/game jolt games, 1 steam game (including Steam Deck support) and currently working on a Switch version of Space Haters, and working on (at least) 3 new things.
But where did it all begin? Since about 2008 I have always wanted to make my own games and noodled with a few projects, including a release of “Storm Ship Shiro” on the Vita via PlayStation mobile before Beehive even existed.
I continued to make games in my free time, usually JRPG games that I would never finish or release 🤣
I also work full time in the games industry on a load of different projects, and was working on Fable Fortune (one of my favorite games I worked on) for a while. However, I was working at a multi-project studio and after Fortune wrapped up, I moved on to a match-3 mobile title, which for me wasn’t exactly stimulating. I was sort of fine with working on it, at the end of the day it was my job and I needed to pay the bills, and the job was comfortable.
But the project was boring.
So, I decided to start my own company as a side-hustle to release my games. And that was Beehive Games. The reason I started my company is having a LTD company gives you a little bit more protection, i.e. if I really messed up with it my house that I pay a mortgage on would hopefully not be in the firing line😁
To start I released a couple of games on itch.io (I didn’t think they were good enough for Steam… but well they could go up there as there is worse up there right now).
They were Devilwood and Storm Ship Shiro: True Pilot Edition. As with everything on itch, they did… fine. Well fine for side hustle/hobby projects.
I also just remebered Shiro came out on Kartridge! Is that still a thing?! I should check that out and see if I can get Space Haters on there.
Anyway, back on track. I came up with a random idea called Space Haters which was a “one-shot vertical shooter set in the ruthless world of interglactic music”. I knocked something up pretty quickly with pixel art and actually it isn’t a far cry to what was released from a gameplay perspective.
During this time, one of my best mates who also happens to be a good artist, asked if I was stiill doing the Beehive thing. I said yes and he joined me in building stuff. Originally we wanted to make a quite high end horror game. And to be fair we could have done it pretty well, but in the end we realised we just needed to do something quicker start to finish.
We kicked off with Space Haters and then found my other friend who was a musician. And then covid happenned and none of us had much to do in the evenings so we just cracked on with Space Haters. I don’t know the exact man hours, but I don’t think it was anything insane (maybe like 3–4 months of actual man hours).
And we released it on Steam!
Space Haters on Steam
Space Haters is a tough-as-nails vertical shoot 'em up featuring classic arcade-style gameplay and set in the ruthless…
Which was awesome!
Again it hasn’t made much money at all, but really I didn’t care. A team I built made something from start to finish and released it and had fun!
That was 2021 we released it. Unfortunately after that, our artists employer was bought out by one of the biggest games companies ever and big company’s and releasing stuff you are gonna sell on stores do not mix.
Shortly after, i had a rest of just noodling with ideas, but I was pretty run down not actively making anything that I was gonna release.
Then, about 3 or 4 months later I playes some Kentucky Route Zero and thought, “I can have a go at something like that”.
I had also just left my job working on quite a large narrative game so thought I could give it a shot.
That project was Getting There, which at time of writing is in the back end of development.
As I worked on there, myself and another friend explored what would happen if I made Beehive into a proper full-time business and messed around doing some Software as a Service for game dev.
However, as I dug more and more into that process and I was doing more managerial stuff in my full time job, I realised that for something that I do for fun in my free time, the prospect of running a bigger company, having employees and all that jazz was fundamentally not what i wanted to do right now.
Also, Software as a service tools was boring. Tooling is really important in game dev, but selling it as a product to others and supporting it is not somehting I wanted to do. I just wanted to make cool games!
It is also worth noting, company admin is both boring and can be horrendously stressful on a good day and there are a number of ways of screwing it up on seemingly simple things.
So 2023, where is Beehive now.
Well apart from being sort of cyber-squatted by some company that is making a pokemon knock off we are focusing on PC and Switch games that I want to make and I feel passionate about!
And when I say PC, in particular the Steam Deck. I grew up with handheld games and the Switch is probably the best console I have owned, Steam Deck is catching up!
I realised that even though I do it every day, I will always want to make games outside my day job. And fundamentally there is something really satisfying making something start to finish with a low budget without various business reasons that can impact the end result.
That doesn’t mean I would be unhappy if Beehive made loads of money off of one of my indie games, and that doesn’t mean none of the games I am making will be unambitous. It is more I can work on them without worrying the whole company is gonna fall apart or i am gonna end up dead and broke on the street! I am also not doing it alone. My favourite composer I get to work with is still involved and I get my mates who are interested involved wherever I can and where they want and have the bandwidth to help!
Apart from getting Space Haters and Getting There over the finish lines, we are working on a cool JRPG. More deets soon!
Wow this was a lengthy post. Anyway, I hope this was a relatively interesting read. Apologies for any inevitable spelling mistakes I missed and yeah keep subscribing.
Go visit us at beehive.games