When it comes to Codeminion Games I’ve been writing about Magic Match, StoneLoops and Saqqarah for the most of the time. But in the past we’ve made much more games and worked on many “interesting” projects. Pteroglider is one of those interesting projects - it was our first finished game actually published on the Internet. It’s also a space shooter. If you wish to play the game you can jump straight to the end of this article, but if you want to know what, when and why then please read on.
What went wrong?
Even if you try hard you won’t find anything about Pteroglider on the new Codeminion.com website. Why is that? Basically the game was a commercial failure. It sold an outstanding number of 32 copies worldwide and simply (from today’s perspective) was a bad game in our opinion. We made absolutely no market research before jumping into the project and made many bad decisions along the way. For example the game requires DirectX 9 drivers, which even today is a high requirement when it comes to downloadable games. And the game was released in April of 2004. Talk about business wise suicide. We thought that new tech was cool and that it would benefit the game, when it was exactly the other way round.
But wait there’s more! The game turned out much too difficult for casual gamers, at least for those who had DirectX 9 installed. In fact it was even too difficult for most hardcore players. Of course we didn’t realize it at first. Pteroglider was very easy for us since we’ve been playing it every day during the whole 3 months of development. What is interesting is that the difficulty is not only due to poor level balance or a lack of tutorial. The very gameplay mechanics were also difficult. Some of you might ask at this point – how difficult the mechanics of a space shooter can be? Well, needless to say we managed to make it quite difficult…
Like most Codeminion games Pteroglider was not a blatant clone. It introduced the “innovative mouse targeting” into the genre. The basic idea was that you controlled the position of your ship with your left hand on the keyboard while targeting your enemies with the mouse. This control scheme is very nice… but only after you spend many hours of getting used to it.
What went right?
This part of the article will be much shorter. But some things must have gone right. Despite of all the mistakes we made even today we tend to get emails and phone calls from people who want us to resurrect the game. Still after many years the game graphics look good and quite fresh. Here is a link to the games gallery which still is online.
There is also one thing that puts Pteroglider on the first place amongst all our games. This is the only one of our games that was completed on time and on budget. Back then we (me and Konrad) where writing our engineering thesis’ and we decided to take a 3 month brake to complete a game and start selling it. Well, this is basically what we did, so one could say that our plan was completed 100% and Pteroglider was a success. But somehow it doesn’t sound right…
Anyway, learning on your mistakes is painful but the lessons learned bring the most value.
Starting from today, Pteroglider is free for everyone to play. You can use it as a reference what shouldn’t be done or you can take this wicked kind of pleasure and try to play it. You can even look at the games website which is still online at www.codeminion.com/pteroglider. The only thing that is missing from the game are the online scores which are currently disabled. Other than that this is the very same full version that was once available for purchase on our website. Perhaps if there is demand I will re-enable this option…
Download Pteroglider Full Version (11.2 MB)
Please note that I don’t plan to provide any kind of support for the game. In case your brain gets damaged by the innovative mouse targeting, please note that you are playing at your own risk.
To learn more about our new games visit the official Codeminion webiste.
Short game instructions:
- When you start the game the first thing you must do is create a new profile by clicking the “new” text in the lower left corner of the screen.
- You can control your ships position with either the WSAD keys or with the arrows. You shoot and target using the mouse. Left button is primary weapon laser, right mouse button are the guided missiles.