Contact Info / Websites
I know it's a flawed game, but jeez. Anyway, it you want to know why it's flawed, read on.
After 2 years and 9 months online my zombie game Billy Genocide has finally crossed the 500,000 mark. 502,638 to be exact and featured on 468 websites, so I figure that merits a little moment of reflection.
What can I say about Billy Genocide? It started off as a very ambitious flash game but ended up a compromise, motivated by financial desperation. Let me back up for a moment. About 4 and a half months earlier I had published Billy Suicide, my dark satirical suicide game. It did well online breaking 100,000 plays in the first two weeks so I decided that if my next game was a sequel it could benefit from the popularity, but I didn't want to do the same game twice. For a while I had been hoping for an opportunity to revisit some of the sci-fi and horror themes I had enjoyed before art school had shamed me out of openly liking them. I decided the sequel would be a zombie game. In retrospect it should have just been it's own game, not a sequel.
I started work right away creating the cool visuals that the game is still appreciated for. I originally intended the game to have a robust fighting system with lot's of unarmed moves, as well as melee weapons and firearms. I also envisioned rescuing people along the way and having additional selectable characters to play in addition to Billy. As the development months went by my money was running out. By month 4 I was at about the 40% completion mark, and the pressure was on. I had rent and bills to pay, and no income coming in.
During development I had put the unfinished game up on a website developers use to connect with publishers in order to get feedback, and had gotten an offer from someone to buy the game as it was. Desperate for the cash (little though it was), I agreed to sell the game after 2 more weeks of work.
When the game was published it was met with mixed reviews. Most people agreed that visually it was impressive, but the game play was repetitive (a fair observation). I have always regretted the decision to publish the game as it was. I really believe I had an opportunity to add a great game to the web, but blew it because of short term financial panic. The experience was a real lesson. If I could do it again, I would try to raise my living expenses some other way, and held off release on Billy Genocide until it was truly excellent. Fellow developers, learn from my mistake.
"After looking at your website, I have to reject your request. The only games you have made are for flash we currently don't accept browser games in the database (although this may change soon) and for that reason you can't have a page as it wouldn't be associated to any games."
Hello Newgrounds friends,
I am happy to announce I have successfully published an app built with flash to the iTunes app store. It's a fun fortune telling app called Dave's Crystal Ball. I am also working on a version for Android which should be available in October, and I've got a few games in the pipeline too (a mobile verison of Billy Suicide maybe?). Oh, and I got a little press that may be of interest:
Some time in the winter of 2007 it occurred to me that I was drinking more often than I was making things. Well, I was making websites for clients in order to pay my rent and eat, so that I could continue to make websites for clients in order to pay my rent and eat, so that...you get the idea.
I had developed a winter routine that involved me finishing a bottle of Jack Daniels sippin' whiskey every two days. There was also a lot of revealing emotional releases in front of an unhappy girlfriend. I recognized that this was a bad routine and a good solution would be to attempt a new creation. In the past I would pick up my guitar, but the mental demands of my web development work had ruled out medium-multitasking. After some thought I decided my new creation would be a video game built with the same tools I was using for websites, and it would be playable on the internet, but what kind of video game would it be? My songs had always been very introspective and self-aware, which I was growing tired of. I wanted to move away from studying myself, but at the same time I needed to address my deepening negativity. After a good amount of thought I decided an exaggerated self-portrait in video game form where the object was to keep a suicidal guy from killing himself was a clever idea that would permit me to deal with my current dilemma, while also being a swan song to my self analytical creations. The concept was born, and I quickly began to develop it in my spare time. I shot video against a make shift green screen of the various activities that the character in the game would do, along with a wide variety of comedic suicides. The game ended up with four suicide variations: gunshot, on fire, hanging and an axe in the head. Sadly I couldn't include: bath tub electrocution, shotgun face, rotary fan face, pill overdose, knife in the gut and Japanese Sepuku (Billy disembowels himself and then his girlfriend cuts off his head). I should mention that this was my first effort to address my suicidal thoughts with dark humor and I found it very therapeutic, although I would later learn that many others wouldn't. I also included my own drawings as wall art along with images by my ex girlfriend, who happens to play Billy's girl in the game. The TV show in the game is a clip from a short movie I made, and all of the music is stuff I had recorded over the years.
The game took nine months to make and pushed my old Dell Dimension 8100 computer to it's limit, but somehow I finished it and called it Billy Suicide. "Now what?" I thought. I really didn't know anything about online game distribution, especially for something as subversive as a darkly comedic game about suicide. I decided to consult the online game community and found a greatly supportive, cool bunch of independent artists. In particular Tom Fulp, who is a hero in the flash game development community offered me great feedback on the game. I was eventually directed to a site called Flash Game License, which is a hub for publishers to connect with developers. Through it I connected with a guy who wanted to publish Billy Suicide. He offered me a thousand dollars. In all the years I made music, films and videos I never earned more than free drinks and a few bucks. Suffice to say it was the best money I ever made in my life.
A short time later I gave the game file to my publisher, Dragon Gamez, and I personally published it to Newgrounds, which is the real testing ground for a flash game. To my chagrin the game was featured on the front page and generally well liked, although here is an example of some of the negative intellectual discourse the game generated:
This game blows so much that even a fag would say that it sucks. Whoever made this game ought to be shot in the back of the head execution style in front of his family. - Damien1363
That's the amusing side of reaching a broad audience on the internet. Anyway, the game was really hot for about a week and a half, and stayed active for months before it started to dip. I felt renewed creatively and began working on the sequel, which I intended to totally disconnect from the original. Billy would not be a self-portrait anymore, but a character that could go places and do things I could not. I decided to return to the adolescent roots that I had been made to feel ashamed of during my year in art school: horror movies. I would drop Billy into a "Night of the Living Dead" style zombie apocalypse, and call it Billy Genocide. I dove into the new game with a lot of ambition, fantasizing that I could turn games out quickly enough to make a living doing it, and not have to bother with web design jobs anymore. After four months I had the game in good shape, but felt that I needed two more months to polish it up, however with the rent and bills looming ever closer, I was forced to try to publish it prematurely. I struck a deal with Dragon Gamez again. When it was published I was excited to see that the game had once again been featured on the front page of Newgrounds, but then the commentary started coming in:
When your character gets hit, he staggers and stays in one place. He recovers so slowly that he cannot move away from his attackers nor can he attempt another attack. He just gets struck over and over until he dies.
There were many more like that one and the game was removed from the front page in just two days (Billy Suicide had been up for a week). I was disappointed to say the least, but it taught me a lesson about releasing work prematurely that I won't forget, and I decided to press on and make a third Billy game. This time it would be my homage to 2001 and Star Wars.
One day while working on the new game, a friend emailed me to say he saw something about Billy Suicide on his news feed. I was intrigued and began to search the web, eventually finding a news story published by The Telegraph, which made a claim that the developers of Billy Suicide were being pressured to remove the game by a group called Samaritans. Here's an excerpt:
...there have been calls to remove the game, after mother-of-one Lisa Dalton, 25, became the 24th suicide victim in the Welsh town of Bridgend. A spokesperson for Samaritans, said: "Suicide is not a light-hearted subject and is should always be taken seriously. Certain types of suicide portrayal can act as a catalyst to influence the behaviour of people who are already vulnerable, particularly young people, and result in an overall increase in suicide and/ or an increase in uses of particular methods."
I was never contacted by Samaritans or The Telegraph, and there seemed to be no connection between Billy Suicide and the people in the town of Bridgend. It was truly bizarre, kind of like in the 1980's when people targeted Heavy Metal as the cause of every bad thing teenagers did. Anyway, the website Eurogamer got in touch with me and asked if I would offer my point of view. Here's an excerpt:
Dave Lasala, creator of controversial Flash game Billy Suicide, has hit back at organizations campaigning for its removal from the internet. His comments come after The Telegraph contacted the Samaritans and PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide), and printed responses claiming the game was both "irresponsible" and a "catalyst to influence the behaviour of people who are already vulnerable" to suicide. "I wanted the game Billy Suicide to be an exaggerated self-portrait," Dave Lasala explained to Eurogamer. "I also wanted to use it to look at a difficult subject with a sense of humour. I feel I have some authority on the subject, having rescued two brothers from suicide attempts. "Anyway, it seems to me that people blame violent art, angry music and horror movies for negative behaviour because it's easier to reduce complex issues down to a neat one-sentence solution, like, 'If there were no violent movies there would be no violence.' "I would encourage everyone to check out the Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine for an in-depth examination of this behaviour. That being said, the object of the game Billy Suicide is to keep him alive," he added.
None the less The Telegraph version of the story got parroted around the UK news web for about a week, but as they say, any press is good press. I went back to work on the final Billy game.
After several months of development I was feeling pretty good about the direction it was going and decided to contact my publisher so he could give it a try. He did, and quickly indicated that he wasn't interested in publishing it. Additionally, many of the people who beta-tested it had nothing good to say about it. I was crushed and gave up work on the game. I won't go into the details of what followed. I'll just say that my life went forward in pretty much the same way as Billy Suicide portrayed it: mediocrity, day in, day out.
It's now April 8th, 2010. Billy Suicide has broken a million plays, Billy Genocide has a 4 out of 5 score at Newgrounds and I finally got the nerve to make public the unfinished third game, Billy's Rocket Ride. I am pleased with The Billy Trilly as I've come to call it, corny as that sounds. I think it's a pretty good thing, imperfections and all. I wish I had a better way to conclude this little recount, but sadly I don't. I just felt that it was appropriate to write a little something about it on it's two year anniversary, but maybe this is a good note to end on:
I've been trying to decide if it's good enough to put on a smart phone or not.
just wanted to let you know billysuicide.com will lead you to my new website:
The new site includes all of my flash games, including material not on Newgrounds, and it has the unreleased finale to the Billy Suicide trilogy: Billy's Rocket Ride. If you play it please give me your thoughts. In other news I am nearly done with my first iPhone app and hope to release it in the next three weeks. If fate permits it I will port the Billy games to iPhone and other mobile devices, and adjust them based on some of the great feedback I've gotten from you guys. Thanks again.from Billy
This image is Billy's Rocket Ride:
2010-01-03 21:11:36 by dlasal
Well, the kickstarter project was not meant to be. I am still working on my iPhone projects, including a version of Billy Suicide. Hopefully it will be available in a few months. For the time being feel free to visit my new website, dave or die dot com:
Well, to be exact it's more of a toy than a game, but it's getting good feedback. It's called "Omar's Crystal Ball" and it will tell your fortune. If you like my work, you'd be doing me a massive favor by helping spread the word about this project. You can get all the details at Kickstarter:
Also, you can check out a limited function demo here:
Please help spread the word, and it might not be long before "Billy Suicide" and "Billy Genocide" are on the iPhone and iPod touch! Thanks
You can now download the collectible, ad-free version of Billy Suicide. I've rolled back the score requirement to get the best ending (to 12,000 I think):
I never heard from anyone to offer a comment.