Exploit: Zero Day

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The Future Proof Podcast 008

Podcast episode

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:21  
Hello, and welcome to the Future Proof podcast. This is our monthly podcast where we chat about stuff we've been working on, and cool stuff we're planning. I'm Melissa Avery-Weir. 

Gregory  0:32  
And I'm Gregory Avery-Weir. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:34  
And this month is going to be another interesting special episode. If you listened to December's episode, which came out maybe early January, you heard us essentially having a meeting on mic. And that was sort of a follow up to a strategic meeting we'd had back in November. We talked a little bit about mission statements and goals and, and all sorts of fun stuff. And one of the things that came out of these meetings has been that we want to do a quarterly assessment, I guess. 

Gregory  1:12  
Yeah, like,

like a real grown up company.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:15  
Like a real grown up company. And so--

Gregory  1:18  
File all our employees out.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:21  
Yes. 

Gregory  1:21  
Make sure we have the space big enough to hold us all. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:23  
Yes, all two of us. Strangely, it's exactly the same space we normally use for--

Gregory  1:28  
For all sorts of podcasting.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:33  
So we're recording this. Parts will probably be cut. I don't think I want another hour long episode, like we released this last time and that can't be interesting to listeners. Maybe it is? 

Gregory  1:46  
I don't know, but we don't want to have to have you have to edit that.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:48  
That's fair. Transcription is a bit tedious. So one of the--the thing that is kind of the goal of this meeting is to answer the question, "What did we do to dramatically change the world last quarter?" And to say the word quarter sounds very financial, but it is convenient.

Gregory  2:08  
October through up to the year.

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:10  
Exactly. So this is our first time doing this. So it's going to be a little fumbly. 

Gregory  2:15  
Yeah, we'll figure it out. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:17  
Yeah. So I guess we'll start with money? Feels like a-- 

Gregory  2:25  
Yeah, I guess. I mean, that's that's, but that's kind of a matter of like if, are we sustainable? Or to put it in another way: are we draining our personal coffers faster than we'd like?

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:37  
Right.

And so the first item is listed as quarter four performance, which kind of doesn't mean any fucking thing. So let's talk about what Profit and Loss looked like.

Gregory  2:54  
I don't know, are we going to be keeping in like actual numbers?

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:59  
No, I will. I will cut actual numbers.

Gregory  3:03  
Alright. So there'll be a gap here. And then are we followed by us sounding really hopeful or really bummed depending on what the numbers look like? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:11  
Yeah. 

Okay. So we might be resuming recording, like resuming the podcast to talk about sales. 

Gregory  3:18  
Yeah, I don't know how much we've cut out, but I'm, we're doing alright.

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:21  
Probably quite a bit of that. 

Gregory  3:23  
We'll see. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:24  
Yeah.

Gregory  3:24  
There's some interesting stuff in there. But yeah, we're not too bad. Yeah, no surprises, I guess. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:32  
Yes.

Yes. No--and because we did better last year at doing our taxes on time, or close to on time, like a lot of the sort of adult bullshit that got us in 2017. 

Gregory  3:45  
I don't even -- "experience bullshit", we can say.

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:48  
Uh, we had already been in business for a while in 2017. 

Gregory  3:51  
Sure. But clearly not long enough. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:52  
All right. And we didn't have like, we didn't do any conferences last year, which we did in 2017, I'm pretty sure.

Gregory  4:03  
Sounds legit, maybe.

Melissa Avery-Weir  4:05  
It was my first... Yes. My first year at Skanska. And yeah, we did ECGC, because it was like my second month there.

So we didn't have any of those big expenditures. We didn't--there's the trademark stuff we did last year, which will kind of show up in our first quarter comparisons. Because we filed for that I think pretty shortly after the release of Majesty. Yeah, so it was a few hundred bucks. But yeah, I think things were just calmer last year, no consultants hired or anything like that. So I'm looking forward to another relatively calm first quarter. We've got taxes and some big stuff re-upping but we don't have Promoter anymore, which was a significant expense. 

Gregory  4:50  
Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir  4:50  
So I mean, I'm, I miss Promoter so much. I miss it so much.

But it's understandable. So next item is to talk about any sort of spikes in sales. 

Gregory  5:06  
Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:06  
I think the goal of this is kind of like is to I guess, really, the goal of all of money stuff is just is to say, like, are we funding ourselves in a way that keeps us in line with the ability to dramatically produce change in the world.

And so if there's any, like notable patterns in game sales. Things we can do... We've we've done this a few different ways. So this is purely kind of a spike in sales thing. We've done some down to like some pretty nitty gritty bunch of our corporate style tracking of campaigns and things like this.

Gregory  5:46  
 I think at this case with how lower sales are just noise is enough that yeah, that level of investigation isn't all that worth it. Like if we're if we made 10 or 100 times the sales that we do it might be be worth it to start tracking like oh, would you campaign was more most effective? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:03  
Yeah, I think it was a good experiments--experiment for us to do. 

Gregory  6:08  
Yeah. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:08  
And for the listener, what we did--this would probably have been 2015 when Exploit: Zero Day was fully in, that was early in its alpha and we were really pushing it and Ossuary on Greenlight about to go to Steam. And what we did was we essentially said, "Okay, what are all of our social media marketing ideas?" Like anything we can come up with, like, make random puzzles in in, in Exploit Zero Day or like, do gifs or like, whatever. And then we kind of turn those into like social media campaigns, like with Google tagging. In fact, I built an app so that we could just tag things properly for Piwik. 

Gregory  6:50  
Still in use.

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:51  
Matomo. Still in use. And so we really just like did this thing it was pretty rigorous. I liked it is the kind of stuff I like to do. It's you know, I've worked for the banks and that's sort of the way they work. Of course, writ large, but that was a really good way for us to like not let ideas and inertia just going to fall by the wayside Yeah, so I'm glad we did that but it did not--the noise, like you said the noise is just we just don't have a lot of sales and so there's not going to be a lot of trending that shows up.

So fourth quarter.

Gregory  7:23  
Right. So in terms of spikes, Steam is essentially our most--large enough that the other services don't really reflect much useful.

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:36  
Yeah.

Gregory  7:37  
We see, we've seen certain spikes on other services mostly aligned with either Steam sales or the sales of the other services have because there are Steam sales going on around the same time.

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:51  
Okay, so the holiday--the winter sale?

Gregory  7:53  
Yeah, so like we saw and I think we saw an itch sale the day... the day or so into major Steam sale.

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:03  
Although to be fair, we did forget to start an itch sale until--

Gregory  8:07  
Yeah, so so it might have been when that sale started. But still like, like one sale doesn't really like we care about itch a lot. But the numbers there aren't enough to make a to let us draw conclusions.

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:19  
Right. Yeah. 

Gregory  8:20  
So our biggest spike of the quarter was the Steam Halloween sale. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:28  
Oh, okay. 

Gregory  8:28  
Which is roughly equivalent to what this Summer Sale did. The Summer Sale was a little bigger because it was a little more spread out

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:37  
Yeah, the Holloween sale ran a week, maybe?

Gregory  8:40  
Yeah, something like that. Yeah. And so kind of all those sales were pretty concentrated. And most of that was on Ossuary, both in volume and in income. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:57  
Okay. 

Gregory  8:57  
So there was a higher volume Ossuary and also we make more on each Pssuary sale. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:03  
Yep. 

Gregory  9:03  
Just because, it's just Majesty is it is a cheap little thing. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:08  
Yeah. 

Gregory  9:08  
So yeah, that's the big news on sales. We still got a bit of a long tail. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:17  
Yeah.

Gregory  9:17  
We just, it's just not it's very long. It's not very broad.

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:20  
Right. 

Gregory  9:21  
So we're still selling here and there.

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:23  
Our releases for this year are looking like: our game jam, which we're going to talk about very shortly because I'm super crunk.

Our game jam and then we'll presumably will finish Headless Swarm and Exploit Zero Day. And those are probably the two big like, "for sure, pencil it on the calendar" releases. 

Gregory  9:50  
Yeah, I think that once we, once we get Zero Day open, whenever that happens, we'll probably reevaluate and be like, all right, what are we actually doing right now? Like, we've got a we've got, um. I think still at the top of our list is "Forgotten Places."

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:07  
Yes. 

Gregory  10:08  
Is that the right title?

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:09  
Yes. Or the Car Game? 

Gregory  10:11  
Yeah. I think the "Forgotten Places" was considered smaller than the Car Game.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:16  
Yes. Car Game is as yet unnamed to the public.

Gregory  10:19  
Yes. I mean,--

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:20  
We're, we're waiting until we--

Gregory  10:21  
I think we've been telling people in person for years--

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:24  
Yes. 

Gregory  10:24  
--what the very cool name of it is.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:26  
Yes. I'm excited to go back to that. But yes, there's a lot more content in that game of like levels and writing and so on. Hopefully "Forgotten Places" can be scoped down. 

Gregory  10:39  
Yep. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:39  
So let's talk about what we're doing now. 

Gregory  10:44  
Yeah, so right now, we are participating in the game jam, which we've mentioned publicly, right?

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:49  
On Twitter, yup.

Gregory  10:49  
But there is the, the Ace Jam for 2019. The asexual jam.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:56  
Yep. So I'm ace. I'm gray ace. And so stumbled on this. And it runs the month of January. I do not know off the top of my head, the name of the person who runs it. Damn. 

Gregory  11:11  
Yeah, I'm blanking on it.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:11  
Meta... meta-something or other.

Gregory  11:14  
But it's it's for games which prominently center asexual people.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:18  
Right,

and not necessarily in a British Sherlock super-baity way. 

Gregory  11:27  
Yeah, there's a lot of there's a lot of good, like, guidance around this. This is a very informal jam. Like there's not like voting.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:34  
Right.

Gregory  11:35  
But it's there's a lot of guidance. It's like, Hey, here's maybe how to write a good game about ace people.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:41  
And here are links to common sites that, I mean. 

Gregory  11:45  
Yeah, all the sources that you use in your your conference talks and stuff like that.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:52  
So I don't know. I'm super excited. I had the experience of explaining to my tech recruiter yesterday at lunch kind of what the game is sort of. I sketched over some details. 

Gregory  12:05  
Yeah. So it's, I mean, very loosely. It's a polyamorous dating sim, featuring guerrilla humanitarians.

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:15  
And featuring you already dating.

Gregory  12:16  
Yes. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:17  
So you're not getting the dates.

Gregory  12:18  
You're not--yeah. It's, it's you are a part of a group that violates intergalactic law to provide humanitarian aid to people. And--

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:30  
Yeah, we call it a purse--person. 

Gregory  12:32  
Per-son? Yes. Yes. Not humanitarian, because they're aliens. Person--personatarian? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:36  
Yeah, I don't know if I can say that. 

Gregory  12:38  
And, and the whole game takes place in the preparation for a mission. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:45  
Right.

Gregory  12:46  
So it's sort of, I think we intend you to play it a few times? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:50  
I think so. 

Gregory  12:51  
Not, not in the sense that like, you'll get a different thing each time but in the sense of, we want to provide kind of a feeling of the cycle of life. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:00  
Yeah. 

Gregory  13:00  
And of the everyday existence of your character. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:03  
Yeah. So you're you're polyamorous--

Gregory  13:07  
Specifically relationship anarchist, right?

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:09  
I think so. I don't know how much that's going to shine through. Without us sort of us throwing a cudgel at it. 

Gregory  13:15  
Yeah, our intent is for none of the relationships to feel labeled or boxed. So you just get what you are looking for  from each other.

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:23  
Exactly.

Gregory  13:24  
As you deal with them. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:27  
And so, you know, kind of opens with what your mission is, you know, there's some terrible thing happening someplace. And, and you're that--like, like Greg said, that sort of the core of the game is prepping for this mission. So it's a matter of, you know, you're going to need to like, you're going to probably want to collect some, you know--call-in supplies or whatever, but also, like, you want to cuddle with your partner. Your doctor partner, or, you know, like--you've got some people on the ship, you have a one remote partner.

Gregory  14:04  
Of various genders and species and.

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:08  
Oh, the artwork. Oh, my God. Okay. So hopefully, hopefully, I can get this podcast edited out by Saturday.

Gregory  14:17  
If not, go back and look.

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:18  
Yes, go back and look. Our screenshot Saturday will be one of the characters.

Gregory  14:24  
Okay, maybe I'm just one? Because we could do a collage. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:27  
Or we could do a collage! Let's do a collage of the five characters of the game. Who are just the cutest art in the world.

But yes, I'm super duper, duper excited. So we are just past half the month. We've got a little less than two weeks to finish it up. 

Gregory  14:47  
Which feels like a short amount of time. I think this... I think I might want to go a little extra time on this. Release a, release a thing at the end of January. And...

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:56  
I'm making a face that's very sad. Okay. Release a thing at the end of January. 

Gregory  15:00  
Yeah. And see, see if we want to do another post jam release. Like post jam releases or a thing. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  15:05  
Yeah, it's like, it's like, post NaNoWriMo, you know. So we didn't really talk about like, I guess the kind of core mechanic of the game if we should. But it's the idea that like, part of your preparation for this trip is sort of fulfilling your needs in the sense of like, a need needs for comfort; needs for fun; needs for like, your libido need; like the ideas to kind of convey that asexuality doesn't mean necessarily that you aren't interested in sex at all, or you don't have a libido. Attraction is different than behavior. 

Gregory  15:47  
Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir  15:49  
And then also, I mean, as an ace person, I will say that combat combines very well with relationship anarchy, or general polyamory, where you connect with people in different ways. Like, especially--

Gregory  16:03  
However you want to connect with that person. However they want to connect with you.

Melissa Avery-Weir  16:08  
Exactly. So hopefully, we'll be able to kind of convey that in this game. Like, we don't want it to be like... I love I love playing the Sims, I do not want it to quite be that, right? "Here's my needs bar!"

Gregory  16:22  
You have kind of a certain amount that is like, yeah, I feel bummed if I don't get this fun need satisfied. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  16:28  
Exactly. 

Gregory  16:29  
But there's also going to kind of be a level of like, yeah, I've gotten I've had a lot of fun prepping for this mission. Great. Cool. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  16:36  
Yeah. 

Gregory  16:36  
And that nothing is stopping you from starting the mission with your needs unfulfilled. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  16:43  
Right.

Gregory  16:44  
Like, sometimes that's what life is. Life is: yeah, I've had a real bad week. Yeah, but you gotta do this thing. Or I choose to do this thing. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  16:52  
Right. So we're having trouble naming this game. 

Gregory  16:56  
Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir  16:56  
It has been--okay. It's very hard for me to not think of "Space Jam." 

Gregory  16:59  
Yes, but Space Jam is for several different reasons, a bad thing for us to name our video game in 2019.

Melissa Avery-Weir  17:09  
Nonetheless, that's lodged in my head.

Gregory  17:12  
Yes, I think that we've also thrown up "Ace in Space," which also is not a great title, because there are several video games named almost exactly that.

Melissa Avery-Weir  17:26  
Look, it's a big world out there. 

Gregory  17:27  
I think that...I think that another one. When we tried real hard to come up with a name, I think what we came up with was "Caudacious." 

Melissa Avery-Weir  17:37  
OK, so the name--

Gregory  17:37  
Which does not come around come across well, vocally or in text.

Melissa Avery-Weir  17:43  
So our current running name for the organization, I was like, Oh, I need an organization that's like about health or something. And then the medical symbol right, is the--

Gregory  17:54  
Is the cadaceus. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  17:55  
And so we do the Audacious Compassion podcast. So we ended up with "Caudacious," which, like you said, impossible to say.

Gregory  18:05  
And very difficult to parse on screen without having it be, like, really hokey with a dash in the middle or maybe quotes around parts of it. So we're still figuring that part out. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  18:17  
Yeah, name might be the last thing we come up with.

Gregory  18:19  
We might might have to go for a good old fashioned like 2010 art game title. It's coming back, especially in dating sims these days. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  18:29  
Okay, we were just talking last episode about how all of our game ideas have come from your era.

Gregory  18:35  
No, no, no. I mean, like something like "I traveled through the universe, and all I got was this sense of satisfaction".

Melissa Avery-Weir  18:43  
That's not going to fit in the Itch box for title of the game.

Gregory  18:45  
Oh, really? Because--

Melissa Avery-Weir  18:47  
Oh, really? 

Gregory  18:48  
Because let me show you some Itch games that have some very long titles. Let me, let me and Christine Love show you how to name a damn video game.

Melissa Avery-Weir  18:58  
So that's--we don't have a name yet. 

Gregory  19:00  
Yeah. So we'll, we'll come up with that. Yeah, at some point.

Melissa Avery-Weir  19:04  
And let's see. Otherwise, we're working on Exploit Zero Day. So we talked last month about how we're going to get that to a point where we can open it up.

And I had a unusually productive week last week. I was--I have been--I think I mentioned I might have mentioned last episode that I've been kind of in a depressive slump on account winter. That's not fixed but the things I'm doing to make it better are making it better. So last week, I was... as I was getting focus back and energy back and just continuing to take care of myself, and just really productive.

Gregory  19:42  
Yeah, meanwhile, I was distracted by 100 different projects I'm doing. Multiple other podcasts and such. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  19:49  
Yeah. 

Gregory  19:49  
So my production was a little lower than usual.

Melissa Avery-Weir  19:52  
And so I'm finding working on Ace Jam to be... I don't know like, it's it's continuing my creative flurry. 

Gregory  20:05  
Yeah. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  20:05  
So we're, we're chugging along on Exploit Zero Day. That's still kind of the least fun thing. 

Gregory  20:12  
Yeah. Not because we don't like it, but just because we've been working on it for so long. And it's a bunch of little things. Very few of which are particularly glamorous. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  20:23  
Right, right. That's not--Yeah, that's not fun. But it's, it's useful. 

Gregory  20:30  
And it's important. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  20:30  
So yeah, we definitely still have the goal of getting EZD to where it can be opened up and getting Headless Swarm finished. Kick that puppy out the door, give it some love, move on to the next thing. 

Gregory  20:42  
And so we come back around to our question of "What did we do to dramatically change the world this quarter?" And I think that I've gotten an email or two lately that have reminded me that people are absolutely impacted by artistic work that one does.

Melissa Avery-Weir  21:00  
Yeah, yeah, I've seen at least one of those come through. 

Gregory  21:04  
I think one of them was to me personally about some of my earlier work. But like, people being like, hey, this was inspiring to me at a an early age or a rough time and has inspired me to do this or this. And that's cool. Like, yeah, just touching one person like that is, is really, really valuable. And has ripple effects. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  21:26  
Yeah.

Gregory  21:26  
That can be really dramatic.

Melissa Avery-Weir  21:28  
And I think... Yeah, it would have been fourth quarter because I was wearing a jacket. The--an organizer of Game Devs in Kenya, contact me. I'm on the Black Game Dev or Game Devs of Color list.

So they reached out to a bunch of us asking, like, Hey, will you do kind of an intro video of like, why you do game dev and what it means? But yeah, like, that's the sort of thing it's like, hey, like, I don't, you know, I don't know. It's, it's a strange sort of outreach. It's disconnected. Right? Like, it's like, here do a video, but I'm happy to do that. Like I'm you know.

Gregory  22:07  
And there's definitely value in being like, positive representation. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  22:13  
Yeah. 

Gregory  22:13  
Like, one of the emails that I got was like, "Hey, I looked at your I liked your stuff, a whole lot growing up, and I just found out you're trans. That's awesome. That's even more inspiring than than it already was." And like, I think, especially that we're not rock stars, we're... I think that we're doing very well in many ways. But we don't get featured as like stars of--in articles of new up and coming devs, or or bastions of the industry or anything like that. But just to be like, hey, here we are us having the various identities that we have working on this stuff. Doing all right by ourselves, I think has has definite value. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  22:56  
Yeah. And we will see, like in our first quarter meeting after Ace in Space goes live... Once that goes live. I mean, I think that it's kind of in line, there are lots of people that don't know what asexuality is.

Gregory  23:13  
And far more than think they do and don't. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  23:15  
Right. 

Gregory  23:16  
And I think that providing exposure to folks also has been a good thing that we've been doing with our--we don't have a whole lot of people that watch our streams yet. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  23:25  
Yeah. 

Gregory  23:25  
But we do just about every week, we do a Future Proof Plays stream where we play through a short game. And we've had multiple times when folks have been like, Hey, what is this game? I haven't seen it before. I'm going to check it out. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  23:38  
Yeah. 

Gregory  23:38  
And that's cool. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  23:38  
That is very cool. 

Gregory  23:40  
Like, get exposure to folks are doing cool stuff. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  23:41  
So yeah, again, based on the timing of when this can get out, I will be playing "What Remains of Edith Finch". I've owned--I own all of these, like the indie games that can make it even to "Giant Bomb," I guess is kind of my my threshold for what makes a famous indie game.

Gregory  23:58  
Also the games that make it Waypoint which is a little narrower.

Melissa Avery-Weir  24:02  
But more indie games make it to Waypoint than Giant Bomb. Like once--I have a bunch of games that hit that threshold that it turns out other people have not heard of, because they don't listen to seven hours of Giant Bomb every week. And so I've been playing that, right? Like Tacoma and games like that. So.

Gregory  24:16  
So thank you for hanging out with us. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  24:21  
Yeah! 

Gregory  24:21  
You can find all our stuff at futureproofgames.com. We're on twitter @playfutureproof and on Facebook as Future Proof Games. So you can contact us there if you've got questions, suggestions, if you want to take a look at our stuff. We're very interested in, if you're a streamer, or anything like that we're happy to chat about possibilities for keys or interviews or whatever. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  24:48  
Yeah.

Gregory  24:48  
Our theme music is "Juparo" by Broke for Free, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.