Today is the three year anniversary of Super Mario Bros. Crossover, so we figured it was a good day to release the trailer for version 3.0. Finally, we’re going to have more levels. We decided to take the levels from an obscure Mario game called Super Mario Bros. Special. It is a pretty weird game that even has some new items and enemies. Playing the game is an absolute nightmare because it’s on an old Japanese computer and it has many technical limitations. Now that it’s playable in SMBC, it can finally be enjoyed like other Mario games. Also, I know that people want The Lost Levels in the game, but we decided to do “Special” first since it’s something different. We’ll be working on The Lost Levels for a future update.

The other big feature we’re adding is levels that change based on difficulty. This means if you play on easy mode, you’ll play an easier version of each level, and for hard mode, a harder version. I really enjoy the hard mode levels. Since I’ve played the game so many times, I’m used to playing through the levels pretty quickly, but on hard mode, I have to stop and think about what I’m doing. It’s really fun, and it plays with the player’s expectations. Easy mode is also fun. Instead of just making the levels easier, we added tons of coins. It makes you want to collect as many as you can so it changes the gameplay a bit.

And of course, there are new skins. Many of the skins in the trailer were released in version 2.1, but I included them since many people may not be aware of them. The new map skins are Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES and SNES), Super Mario Bros. Special, Atari, and Castlevania. There are also some new character skins that were not shown in the trailer only because there is so much stuff in the game it’s difficult to show it all. As mentioned in the trailer, the new version will be released in May or June.

In addition to the three year anniversary of SMBC, it is also the three year anniversary of Exploding Rabbit. It’s always fun to look back on the anniversary and see where I was last year. If you would have told me one year ago that I was going to raise $53,000 and move across the country to work with people I never met on a commercial game, I would have told you that you’re crazy… and I still think you’re crazy, but that’s what happened.

We finally seem to be settled into the house and have most of our finances and lives in order, so we’re able to get a lot more work done now. I think you’ll notice that you’re going to see a lot more stuff from us now because of that. I’m also focusing a lot more on being more social and transparent online, so there shouldn’t be any long gaps of silence from us. I’m hoping to release videos pretty regularly now, and maybe, for once, I’ll be able to do it.

And I’m sure you noticed, but we have an updated logo. It’s a bit more colorful and fun, and I think it fits the company well (although it almost seems too colorful for the current design of the site, but let’s just ignore that for now).

Hmm… I seem to be writing a lot, and lots of text on one page scares me, so I’ll stop. Happy anniversary to everyone, and thanks for helping to make my life a crazy adventure.

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We randomly decided to try doing a live Google hangout. We ended up getting tons of questions and it went pretty well. The first part of the video is spent trying to figure things out. After about 20 minutes we start answering questions.

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The last update for Super Retro Squad was posted on February 5th, and today is April 2nd. In that same amount of time, there haven’t been any posts on the private backer forum. There has been virtually no new information from us on Super Retro Squad for 2 months. Documentary episodes were promised in the Kickstarter, but none have been seen. The estimated delivery date for the project on Kickstarter is March 2013. What is going on with this project?

When you look at all that, I think it’s safe to say that we have let our backers down. I am not the type of person that will make excuses and tell you that it’s not our fault. It is definitely our fault. We certainly didn’t do it on purpose, but we messed up and I’m sorry. First I’ll explain a bit about how it happened and then I’ll explain what we will do about it.

Problems

Problem #1: I completely forgot about the Kickstarter comments page. After the Kickstarter ended, I basically never went back to the page. I figured that there would never be any reason to go back. Zach told me last night that there were some negative comments on there. Once I saw them, I realized I needed to make this post and explain myself.

Problem #2: Time flies when you live with your development team. We live and work in the same place. I never really know what time or day it is because I don’t need to. The only way I really notice time passing is at our biweekly meetings and on my cleaning day (we are each assigned a day for cleaning. Today is my day :( ). I had no idea it had been so long since our last update.

Problem #3: I get so focused on what I’m doing that I block everything else out. Being completely focused on what I’m doing allows me to finish one task completely before moving on, but it sometimes causes me to forget about all of my other responsibilities. That’s why I never seem to be able to post tweets on Twitter regularly.

Problem #4: We are still working on two games… sort of. I’ve had to do some work on Super Mario Crossover lately because we were planning on adding new levels and there was no way to do that before. Having two games going on in the same house can be a little distracting. Now that our in-house level editor is done, SMBC should go back to only being handled by one person. I think we need to work on keeping the games separate and making sure that the SRS developers are not distracted by SMBC development.

Solutions

Now, let’s talk about how we will fix these problems.

Solution #1: We will release a video showing off the current state of the project. I was already planning on doing this, but it got delayed slightly. The video will feature artwork from the game and probably some gameplay and screenshots. It will also feature commentary from the team on how things have been going and some stuff that has changed since the project was first launched on Kickstarter.

Solution #2: Monthly project updates. Once a month, we will give an update on how things are going with Super Retro Squad. I am considering doing a livestream video where we will respond to questions and comments from backers. That part is experimental, so we’ll see how that goes, but either way, we’ll do an update once a month from now on. The first update will be the video mentioned in Solution #1.

Solution #3: Biweekly updates in the private backer forum. I said before that we were going to have regular updates, but we didn’t do it. This time, I will make sure it happens. Every two weeks, we’ll choose a team member to post something in the forum about what they’re working on. Currently, we’ve only had art and music updates, but I’d like to have other kinds of updates also.

Solution #4: Twitter updates. I attempted this before and failed, but this time I will set up automatic reminders on my computer to tell me to post a tweet. It’s kind of hard to think of stuff to write sometimes because I don’t want to give away exactly what we’re doing, but I’ll figure something out.

Solution #5: Paying more attention to feedback. I’m now watching the comment section on Kickstarter, and I’ll tell everyone on my team to watch out for comments on the forum. If anyone has ideas for improving backer updates or how we should handle anything, please let us know. One thing I am still not sure about is how to update Paypal backers on what’s been going on. Maybe I should send out an email to all of them with each monthly update?

Other Issues

I’ve mentioned many times that the release date on Kickstarter was only there because Kickstarter required a release date. I made the best guess I could at the time, and it turned out to be way off. To be honest, I do not think the game will be out this year. I would expect it sometime in 2014. Please do not be discouraged by that. We have talented people on our team and we will make a great game, but we are all new to what we are doing, so it has taken us a long time to establish a good workflow and get settled into the house. We also had to figure out how we will survive with the money we have until the game is done, so almost everyone on the team has either a part-time or full-time job. We are making a lot of sacrifices to make this game, and getting it done is our highest priority.

The documentary is completely out of our control, and there isn’t much we can do about it. Nick, the creator of the documentary, came here and filmed us a few months ago. He is a very cool guy and we got along great. He is also one of the busiest people I’ve ever met. If the documentary budget was higher, he could work on it all the time, and that’s what he wishes he could do, but since he is not making any money off of it, he has to work on other stuff in order to support his family. So far he has not had the time to make an episode, but I trust that he will as soon as he can. For people that don’t know, editing a documentary is extremely time consuming, so I understand why he has not been able to do it yet.

That is all the information I can think of to tell you right now. I do my best to make Exploding Rabbit a very transparent company that listens and responds to feedback. We will work harder to let everyone know what’s going on more regularly. Thanks for your understanding and support in the project and remember to let us know if you have any suggestions to improve our communication with you.

There is another video coming soon in addition to the Super Retro Squad update that should help you to understand what we’ve been working on.

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