Aztaka Developer’s Edition

By: ithamore

On: January 26th, 2011

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Earlier this month, Citérémis released a special Developer’s Edition of Aztaka, and it will be available for $9.99 (50% off the regular price) until the end of January. With the game, it includes the source code, the OST, and an art book.  Also, the demo has been trimmed down to 319 MB for those how haven’t tried it yet.

This special edition and discounted launch price is part of their initiative toward making the game profitable. Since May 2009, Aztaka has earned only 16% of the $235,000 that was borrowed to develop the game. So, this is a chance for some charitable game buying. It is also reminder to all indie developers wanting to break into commercial gaming that taking a large financial risks is risky and sometimes a gamble.

Sources: Citérémis and DIYgamer.

  • ZeppMan217

    It's (still) 15$ in Steam. How is it a 50% off?

  • Anonymous Poster

    You can buy games from places other than Steam, you know.

  • ithamore

    I think you missed the point. The Steam version is the old version.

    This is the newest version of Aztaka.

  • Anonymous

    16% what a mess.
    I hope they will earn enough money to reimburse their friends and family, and especially to make new games !
    I already bought this game, maybe that I'll buy it a second time for the artbook.

  • Sean Cameron

    Ugh, my heart goes out to them but expecting to make all that back strikes me as naive.

  • ZeppMan217

    So, why support developers who don't support their own product?

  • Peevish

    Holy shit, formatting!

  • Zabycx

    $235,000??? -Wow-. I mean, I feel for them, I really do, but where did that money go? The results weren't very impressive. The original setting was the only thing Aztaka had going for it. They had uninteresting gameplay (and that's being kind), poor balancing, and no ending.

    Did they just quit their day jumps and go all in with zero indie dev experience? They really didn't seem to know what they were doing. Outside of the game, they had no marketing push even at indie web sites, no word of mouth, no promotions, etc.

  • the_dannobot

    Agreed, that is a LOT of money. From their website: “Four years ago Citérémis rented a small office above two bars.” Four years to make the game??? Dudes, narrow the scope and work from home.

  • JC_Denton

    Shame that they have to resort to selling the game as a means of saying “HELP US” rather than on its own merits.

    At least giving them money will “bring together indie developers” apparently.

  • Theon66

    I've bought the game twice (through a campaign on YAWMAgames), but I haven't bothered with trying it yet (it didn't look very interesting)…
    Does anyone know if I should give it a go, or if my presumptions are on the spot?

  • Godeke

    This is a very valid question. 4 years renting office space to create a game seems to be the opposite of the typical indie developer. Failing to bring the Steam version up to date at *minimum* seems an odd way to promote your latest and greatest. Sales do attract volume and getting the latest and greatest on Steam at the discount price (with source) *might* have made a difference. Currently I just see a plea from some developers who made poor choices to fix the hole they got into, without even doing the effort to utilize powerful sales tools of Steam or the Indie Bundles (as examples, not a limiting list).


    Never heard of it before. Still don't know what it is.

  • Imwithsteupid

    to be honest, I've played it and its not terribly interesting. maybe if they just do a pay what you want sale with other games, they'll make more of it back.

  • TheTaoOfJ


    i.e. – Introversion Software – look up their track record sometime people if you're interested in what not to do as an indie studio.

    (Not that they don't make good games, they just didn't conduct their “business” using frugality as a basis for projecting the future of their business, something all indies must do. )

    The best tip anyone could possibly give an indie developer looking to make money being an indie developer – be frugal, remain passionate about your work, but for the love of all that is good gaming, be frugal!

  • Dorschen

    Too much time in the bars below, not enough time in the office above. ;-)

  • NeoMaxiZoomDweebi

    Had Aztaka been a little more popular this is a problem that could have easily been averted by being included in the Humble Indie Bundle… Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

  • Arrrr

    Strikes ME as naive to have dug that hole in the first place.

  • Joeyb

    “with the objective of bringing together the independent developers”

    Reward weakness and incompetence? I think… not.

  • Grahamgoring

    It's sad to read something like this, but it really does come down to survival of the fittest. If you make foolish financial decisions and then release a sub-par product, then you're gonna' find yourself in a bad position. Make something in your bedroom and then use the profits from *that* to fund a bigger game because the idea of taking out a loan to fund the development of a game is ludicrous.

  • Guest

    They obviously invested way too much money upfront without thinking it through. They borrowed a quarter million and haven't even made 25% back yet. I frequent sites like this and indiegames, kongregate, newgrounds, etc. and have never seen this game before, so none of that money must have went into promotion.

    Don't want to be so hard on these guys, but most of the financially successful indies did stuff like rented office space after they made some money back (look at the Minecraft guy, it was solo operation until he saw the money that was coming in and, importantly, the demand). Jon Blow from Braid borrowed money, I believe- but it was obvious his game was going to sell by the attention/awards recognition he was getting in the run up to the release. Not so in this case.

  • Jonathan Mercier

    Hi Everyone, I'm the one who took the risky move of borrowing that much money. To be honest, its true that that project was a bit too big for a first project and a small team like us, but every penny (and hard work) we put in Aztaka was worth it. None of us was also really good at marketing and my biggest mistake was to put every resources on making the game and not hiring someone else to do the PR/Marketing. This cost us a lot, and keep hurting us like hell financially, but we learned (and keep learning about it, may be naively ;) ). We are sharing our production cost, sales figures and past, and almost giving our game code, so that other people/indie can also learn from our mistakes.

    That being said, we still had great pleasure crafting the game and are happy with what we did. The game is not for everyone, but for those who loved the good old-school 2D action/rpg side scrolling game. Aztaka has great graphics and audios (you will understand where the money went) – give it a try! Also, we included the game code, the A.I in particular, is something that might interested few programmers.


  • meep

    This post should have had a video of gameplay because it's hard to figure out what exactly Aztaka is. So I looked it up and the first video I found was a play through of the first part of the game(?). Graphics were nice though they are desaturated but still not bad. From screen shots I thought it was a point and click adventure because of the interface. Theres actually more running around than I expected. I like the idea of putting that essence in parts of the tree to make it grow but it seems really difficult for the player in the video to do it. It should be easier to do simple things like that other wise players will get lost/ lose interest and then theres no word of mouth either.
    Anyway hope this dev edition works out for the team. I hope things like i mentioned were actually fixed.

  • ithamore

    Taking out loans, using up savings, and/or remortgaging houses to develop a game has been done successfully in the past, but all of the examples I can think of had already released smaller, free games before betting heavily on their wunderkind.

  • exit

    “taking a large financial risks is risky”

    thank you, professor.

  • Grahamgoring

    Well yes, if you've got established ability and a track record which is gonna' get people to buy into you game, that's better, although personally I'd still not want to get £150k in hock, even if it's to make my magnum opus.

  • Vania

    But hey, lets all buy Super Meat Boy!

  • Vania

    Just played the demo.

    The game looks great but…
    I played for over half an hour and got just one skill (a shield).
    Do the battles get more interesting later on?
    It reminds me of Aquaria, without the sense of exploration and exciting battles.

    Its not bad, but the strenght of indie games is innovation, if you dont focus on your strenghts its hard to be successful in this business.

  • anonymous

    I remember playing the demo a while back. Even if the game was good, and I gather from the above comments that it isn't, it ran slowly on my old computer. One of the reasons I played mostly indie games then was that my computer couldn't run newer games. I think it could have done a little better if it had lower system requirements.

  • Jonathan Mercier

    The game is good. Have look at this review(9/10).

    Andrew suggested that the demo was actually not showing all the game potential,but ” by the 9th map level Huitzilo is a spinning, jumping, spell-flinging Aztec ninja. ” Anyway; not sure what else to tell you :)

  • Vania

    I'll play it some more then.

    But then there is a big flaw in the demo.

    Have you noticed that lots of games have you start with all your skills and then lose them for some reason, only to start from zero?
    That trend exists for a good reason, it alows you to show your game's potential in the first minutes of play.

  • CloudStrife

    “but every penny . . . we put in Aztaka was worth it.”

    Since they weren't your pennies and you lived like princes while making a vanity project, I should expect so!

  • Vania

    Taking the risk to leave your job and trying to live off doing what you love is a very respectable thing.

    On the other hand, renting office space is the first(and last) mistake many indies make.
    Why do they do it? is it social pressure? To prove themselves that they have a serious job?

  • CloudStrife

    “Taking the risk to leave your job and trying to live off doing what you love is a very respectable thing.”

    Sure, but that's not what they did. What they did was “tryp[] to live off” their friends' and family's money while doing what they love. There's nothing “respectable” about that. It is certainly enviable: I wish that rather than working a hard job, I could dick around all day making games. But being responsible means paying for the dollars you spend, and I don't think you can be respectable without being responsible.

  • SuperNotJoeTheOtherGuy

    You're a jealous homophobe with a small penis.

  • xdiesp6

    Game without marketing est imago mortis.

  • hewwo

    I gotta agree, I loved the music and design for this game. I just bought the Dev's edition and it's been really fun since. It reminds me of Diablo in side scroller form, I really dig it.

    Just wanna say, I recommend this.

  • Paulevans_01

    Fun game, but the version I purchased and played shortly after release was buggy as heck and had a complete lack of cohesion near the end. Worlds just didn't link up in a logical manner, akin to the copy+paste style of gaming in the 8 bit era due to cart size. Given all the art was hand drawn, the tacked together feel of the last few parts _really_ made me feel if it got rushed out the door at the end. As for story, the beginning part was memorable but the ending forgettable. They had an unusual and well fleshed out setting but didn't really go anywhere suprirsng with it.

    Gameplay is basically identical to Zelda 2 minus the brutal and cheap bits (ie. fun even for a non-masochist).