Let’s face it, when it comes to indie game developers organization is rarely one of our strong suites. We like the freedom of developing when we want, where we want. While that may indeed be a small part of the charm of the indie life, the reality is that poor organization results in unproductivity and laziness more than it results in progress and happy feelings. I’m no expert on being an indie developer, but as I’ve been developing full-time this summer I’ve found a couple little tricks that really help increase organization and productivity in general.
1. Make a Project Schedule
One of the most important things you need to do is know everything you need to get done in the development time that you have. Right now I have seven weeks to complete Super Mega Bob (mostly), start a new project in Unity3D, get ready for the upcoming school year (since I teach and need these things called lesson plans), and take care of several pressing personal matters such as moving into a new house. Let me tell you, seven weeks still feels impossible when I think about it, but when I organized everything that needs to be done into a little spreadsheet things started feeling a little more doable.
This is only the first step in getting organized, but it really helps. Think of yourself as a boss – because you are the boss of your development whether you feel like it or not. A good boss has a master plan that he’s running off of, and he keeps everyone in line by making sure they are where they need to be in that master plan. Make your plan and keep yourself in check with it.
2. Set Daily Goals
Once you have your master plan, stop thinking about how little time you have or how overwhelming everything is! Seriously, stressing out about what’s left to do will only make you incredibly unproductive in the present. Wake up in the morning and set some daily goals based on the handy project schedule you just made. Again, you’re the boss, and a good boss lets his or her employees know what they need to do when they come in every day.
I just started following a daily schedule based off of my master plan, and it has been an amazing step forward. For one thing, I got a lot accomplished today. In fact, I did far more in a much smaller period of time than I have all Summer long. Why? Because I wasn’t worried about the big picture. I know that if I follow this daily schedule I will complete the game in time, whether I feel like it or not. How do I know that? Because the master plan has already charted my course to victory, and as long as I stick to it I’m going to come out on top. Awesome!
3. Organize Your Workspace
And believe it or not, I’m not talking about this!
Sure, that’d be great, but most of us are a little more hectic than that and don’t exactly have a huge budget for making the “office” pretty-pretty. What I’m talking about is setting up your daily work area in a way that helps you concentrate and work effectively. Don’t feel guilty about doing what it takes to help you stay focused.
For me I need a few things: a set area, a comfortable place to stand/sit, and some gentle background noise so I don’t feel isolated. Right now, I’m in my room, sitting in a chair, and some Star Trek: The Next Generation is playing in the background. Now, that might be an incredible distraction to some, but for me it gives me that slight edge of “someone else is here with me” to make me feel like I’m actually at an office and have to stay concentrated. And I’ve seen TNG so many times that I’m not possibly distracted by the story because, well, I already know well what is about to happen in each episode.
Figure out what works for you, and don’t be embarssed about it. So long as you are completing your daily objectives and keeping up with the plan, you’re going to be OK. Now, go get organized!
They all seem like valid questions to me. And I think it perfectly reflects the questioning nature of any serious indie dev. You spend so much time behind a computer screen just writing code and making art that sometimes you forget if what you’re looking at is even good anymore. It’s been so long since you played your game that, when you finally do, you barely even recognize what you’re working on. Hopefully that means its good. But as a developer, you always have the nagging question: “What if it’s really just a giant pile of trash?”
The following blog is meant to encourage, entertain, and hopefully enlighten. Super Mega Bob Beta v.0.2 was just featured in Desura’s Freedom Friday promotion. This is an honest, real, human account of how it went down and exactly how I felt about it. Why do I share this? Because I know there are a lot of aspiring developers out there who want to know what it’s like. Some, perhaps, that need a dose of reality. Others who need a dose of encouragement. I am by no means a “great” indie developer. I’m just a dude with a computer making games, and this is no comprehensive look at making them. It’s just my thoughts, written in the most personal way I know.
NOTE: As some of you already know, I am a very dedicated Christian believer. Please understand that references to my faith in Christ throughout this account are not meant to be “preachy.” It’s real, it’s genuine, it’s authentically who I am. Trying to separate that from the last three days of my life would be like ripping out the very heart of why I do this. With that in mind, let’s begin!
I use the word resigned because, well. . . I was resigned. Super Mega Bob would be out in around 16 hours. I couldn’t do much but wait and pray. And pray I did. I had been praying all day about the release. I wanted it to go well. I was hoping for 1000-5000 downloads within the first 24 hours. I knew that was hyper ambitious, but I’ve got a Kickstarter campaign coming up. It seemed like a good goal.
As bedtime approached I had a nice snack which included some pizza and oatmeal. Cuz’ they’re yummy. Then I watched a bit of a cheesy old Kurt Russell movie, some Star Trek: Voyager, prayed some more, and went to bed. The real release of SMB Beta was about to begin.
Mood: EXCITED BUT TIRED
I’ve been waiting for this day for around a month. I’m excited, yes, but extremely exhausted. It’s Friday. I’ve been teaching since Tuesday because I was off for President’s Day on Monday. I decide not to make any lesson plans today, because I’ll be busy enough trying to keep up with SMB between classes.
I make a decision that if I ever buy a Camaro, I’ll use it to bring a smile to people’s faces by driving them around in it. Because spending that type of money on a car would be such a waste if there was no ministerial point for it. I realize I’m a huge sucker for Camaros. Also remind myself that’s a daydream and I should be focused on work instead.
11:00 AM, SMB Releases
I’m sitting in study hall with a bunch of 7th and 8th graders, trying to keep them under control. It’s difficult sometimes, but I really do enjoy teaching. As soon as it’s done I’m on my way over to check and see what’s going on with Desura. I sit down at a desk, pull out my laptop, and look at the numbers.
SMB has been downloaded somewhere around 20 times. Cool, yes. Nowhere close to the superstorm I had hoped for. “But hey,” I think, “it’s early yet.” I go an talk to a Liberty National rep about my supplemental insurance. Do some jumping jacks. Go to lunch.
The number of downloads is somewhere slightly above 100. It dawns on me that I’m probably not going to be looking at 1,000 downloads like my original hopes. I find myself praying a lot. At times, I wonder why there aren’t more downloads. Did I do something wrong? Is Desura’s user base just smaller than I thought? Is the game bad? Is God sending me a message about my game pursuits?
Then comes some encouragement: no negative reviews of the game! Folks are saying good stuff after they play it. Peeps on Twitter mention how impressive the game and PR campaign I’ve put together are. Lots of smiles ensue
Attend a missions dinner with my fiancé at her church and hear a lot about works in Australia. Afterwards spend some time with her talking about our upcoming wedding, then go home to see what’s what with SMB.
After checking my e-mail repeatedly, I realize none of the reviewers I e-mailed will be writing anything on Friday. Quickly realize that’s normal, and hope maybe something will come out on Monday. Downloads have hit slightly above 240. Suddenly a wave of doubt, depression, and defeat crashes over me. I feel like it’s been an utter flop, and feel hopeless when thinking about the upcoming Kickstarter. Proceed to be pretty moody in a conversation with my mom, and bemoan that - even though 240 is good and all – it simply isn’t enough and not what I wanted. Feel very dejected and a bit angry. Wonder why it’s not going better.
However, Thursday I had prayed and said that “win or lose” I would publicly thank Christ for all He’s done, and the wonderful friends, family, and followers He has brought into my life. Proceed to do so on Twitter, immediately feel very convicted for being so incredibly selfish. Most indie devs might cut off a minor appendage to see one of their games get 240 downloads in a 10 hour period, and I realize I’ve been greedy and thinking way too big instead of focusing on the amazing blessing God has brought into my life. Apologize to mom for being a jerk, realize things are pretty awesome, thank God for His blessings, and go to bed feeling much more at peace than I have in a while. I got pwned, and I deserved it.
I wake up and realize what a douche I was yesterday. It’s a beautiful day, and I was off to look at the new house I just got for when my fiancé and I get married this Fall. Look at the stats and see SMB is up to over 300 downloads, realize how immensely blessed I am and proceed to have a wonderful day.
Around 2:00 I find an amazing article written about Super Mega Bob that touches my heart and nearly brings me to tears. Its rewarding to see the game is impacting folks the way I wanted for it to. They see the emotion in the story, and they like it. I’m left speechless at how amazing that is.
Eat a healthy dinner, watch some Adventure Time with my incredibly patient and understanding fiancé, and then head home and take one last look at SMB before going to sleep. The game has been downloaded right at around 500 times. That’s amazing and incredible. I share it with my Twitter followers, who congratulate an encourage me. How could I ask for any better? Thank God for all He’s done and go to sleep after being challenged to port the game to Mac.
Mood: READY TO GO AGAIN
Eat some oatmeal for breakfast, go to Church, teach the kids (my weekly responsibility), look at Desura to find the first negative comment. Realize its just trolling, and for perhaps the first time ever I don’t get worked up about it. It happens, and there’s no point. Encourage my followers to review the game on Desura, hopeful to recover from some of the damage done.
Realize that, at the end of the day, this industry is just work. Plain, hard work. There are ups and downs, as with anything else. But feel immensely rewarded at the thought that over 600 people have downloaded Super Mega Bob, and blessed that so many of them enjoyed it and have communicated their appreciation to me. And, looking back at it all, seeing my mood swings, seeing my changes, become thankful that I have so many friends, such a wonderful Twitter following, an absolutely amazing family, and a Friend in Christ Who remains the same even when I stumble, falter, and – at times – fall.
I know this was long, and deeply personal. But I just wanted to express that. . . at the end of the day, we are all human. We all have the same struggles, the same weaknesses, the same doubts and fears. You are not alone. And making games, when you boil it all down to its essence, is just a lot of hard work. And willingness to have that hard work ignored, maligned, and then finally, ultimately, after sweat and some tears: rewarded.
I have no idea what will happen tomorrow. My mood will swing, I’m certain. But I realize that the people around me are far more important than my mood swings, and I don’t want to hurt them just because today was not the day that SMB went mega-viral. Besides, how can I complain? What a victory – what an amazing miracle! Over 600 players? Yep, that’ll do. That’ll do just fine
There was once a time when writing a story for a game wasn’t even a concern. I mean, when all you had to work with was 64K of memory (!) it wasn’t exactly easy to tell a robust story filled with hidden meanings and moral messages. But nowadays stories are an important part of our games. For some, it’s the whole reason you buy the game.
And there’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, I think it’s a wonderful thing. But we are left with two important questions: how will we write the story; what will we communicate through it?
Communicating Your Story
For one thing, game style affects the story. Yes, it does. Don’t question it, because if you do you’re going to end up trying to turn a puzzle game into a first-person shooter. Or, even worse, you’ll end up with an atrocity like Mario Is Missing.
Trust me, it isn’t the action packed game the box depicts. No castles. No battles. Just crushed childhood dreams!
So the first question you want to ask yourself is, “What type of story does this game lend itself to?” Puzzle games can tell amazing, intricate stories! But they’re not going to be stories of the epic-battles-in-space-with-splosions-and-stuff variety. Existential, historical, or emotional stories, on the other hand, could go very well with a puzzle game.
Once you’ve determined what style of story you’re going with, begin studying examples of stories in that genre. If you want to make an action game with an amazing, adrenaline pumping story, then you probably are going to want to watch Man of Steel. And The Avengers. And read The Lord of the Rings. And. . . well, you get the idea. What do they do? What type of characters are present? How does it flow? What makes you want to watch it? What do you like? Dislike? Form opinions on other works, take their strengths, avoid their weaknesses, and then begin crafting your mighty epic.
Once you’ve started this creative process, write the story. Read it. Rewrite it. Read it again. Rewrite it again. Repeat about one-hundred times. Good stories take time! Keep working at your story. Work on character names until you are happy with them. Make sure everything in the story is logical. If you are not engaged when you read your own writing, try again! Make something so good that even you enjoy it. Think about it when you’re going to sleep. When you’re walking. When you’re driving. When you’re sitting. . . even in the bathroom. Seriously. Think about it and develop it all the time!
See? Edison didn’t give up – even if it suuure looks like he wanted to!
Before moving on let me add a few practical pointers. Practice good spelling/grammar. No one wants to read child speak. Be creative, be descriptive. “This game is about a man trying to come to grips with his life” doesn’t sound nearly as enticing as: “Existence is a story – the story of a small rat named Abuelo struggling to understand the stark, existential world which now fills his vision.” If you notice, both are about the same thing, the second is just more creative. Bounce your ideas off of others. If everyone says your story sucks, I hate to say it but most likely. . . it sucks. Get outside input, and – as always – listen to it!
Communicating Your Message
In my opinion, the best games and stories also communicate a message. Some games I have played – like To The Moon – communicate those messages in powerful, gripping ways which make the game especially memorable.
Communicate your message using themes, characters, and emotions that everyone can understand. Some games have great messages, but they are so freakishly high, mighty, unknowable and downright douchey that no one can understand what the author is trying to say. Keep it real! When your game is “a mysterious look into the untold depths of the human soul as seen through the eyes of a metaphorical worm climbing through the spire of the ethereal doorway reaching to the lowest heaven of the highest anguish of the eternal soul” . . . well, do you see why no one likes it anymore? People think that communicating depth requires using unknowable metaphors and mysterious imagery. Not so. Sometimes the best stories are told using the simplest things.
Story-telling done right. Simple, effective, emotional.
Finally, a good story is always a reflection of the worldview and beliefs of its creator. And, that is a good thing. I don’t know what you believe. But for crying out loud, if you believe something, believe it! Let that belief permeate what you are creating. I enjoy nothing more than seeing what others think by playing and enjoying their games. Whether you are a capitalist, socialist, Buddhist, hedonist, or downright I-don’t-knowist, communicate the world as you see it and allow us to catch a glimpse of your “lens” for understanding the world. It will make your game better, and hopefully the development process will cause you to challenge your beliefs and grow your understanding of life. I am a Christian. I read the Bible on a daily basis (I know, that’s hardly normal gamer talk). I can honestly say that my worldview affects everything I do, and as I develop games I am challenged to continue examining what I believe and learn how to communicate it in better, more beautiful, more understandable ways.
Telling stories through games should be awesome! Everything I just wrote is, obviously, my opinion. But isn’t that what story-making is all about in the first place? Sharing thoughts, opinions, emotions, and beliefs in powerful and gripping ways which everyone can enjoy? So go out there and write your story, make your game, and share your dreams with the world!
I’m about to tell you something that might rock your indie game developing world, so get ready – this one’s a big deal.
Criticism is good.
Those three words seem like both blasphemy and hatred to the average indie developer. I would know, I is be one (yes, that’s improper English. No, I do not care). When attempting to develop a game it is vital that you open up to criticism and allow people to tell you what they really think about your game. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot recently, especially as I prepare the first beta release of Super Mega Bob (which you can learn more about here).
What I am about to say is far from scientifically proven fact. I will most likely change, modify, and refine my thoughts in the years to come. But I have found that breaking criticisms up into one of three categories can be very helpful. Here we go.
Some people see categories in this picture. Me? I see peanut butter.
Category One: Things I MUST Do
These are the criticisms which you cannot afford to ignore. They are reasonable, feasible, relatively simple-to-implement changes which would undoubtedly contribute towards the overall quality of your game project. A great example would be some criticism I received just earlier today: “You should make more art tiles for your stone walls, because they are currently too repetitive.” After one look at my current alpha I realized this was a very true statement, and it’s something I can take care of without adding hours and hours of tedious labor. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and I’d be an idiot to ignore the advice. “Why not add some more sound effects?” is another criticism that would definitely fall under this category. You can’t afford to not do these things – so do ‘em!
So, that’s your beautiful, repeating game background? Yeah – you MUST change that.
Category Two: Things I MIGHT Do
These are criticisms which are certainly valid, but may be a bit beyond the scope of what seems feasible, reasonable, or relatively simple-to-implement. I also find that many criticisms in this category can fall into the area of opinion. For example, you may think that a constantly scrolling animated background is all the rage – but a critic may point out that it makes him/her feel dizzy or as though the scene is too busy. Who’s right, who’s wrong? That’s a great question, and only time will give you the answer. These are things you should put on a kind of “bucket list” – you’re aware they’ve been said, and you’re thinking about making the change, but you can’t jump onto absolutely every “change this” bandwagon which comes your way. Wait to see how many others recommend the same thing.
Category Three: Things I CAN’T Do
Nobody likes a douche, so try not to be one. But let’s face it: there are some things you simply cannot do to your game. For example, someone once said about my pixel horror game ADDICT, “Seems great and all, but lose the pixelated look.” Well, that would kinda’ defeat the purpose of a pixel horror game, wouldn’t it? This is not a license to be rude. Thank people for their input (unless it ‘s just trolling – then I recommend you totally ignore it), but you can put these criticisms aside (unless everyone is saying it). If you’re looking for a filter, anything that is unreasonable, highly infeasible, and extremely difficult-to-implement is probably going to fall into this category. “Please change the style of this game” is probably going to fall into this category. “You might consider adding some more music,” on the other hand, is a definite “Thing I MUST Do.”
I’m sure someone said they needed to get rid of this, but they couldn’t. It was a matter of principle!
I am no expert on video game design. I’m just a guy trying his best, stating my honest opinion in this article. I desperately hope I don’t come across in a condescending way at any point, especially with the “Things I CAN’T Do” section. Please assimilate what is useful to you, and throw the rest away. I know I’ve made mistakes in writing this, just as I know I have and will continue to make mistakes in video game design. Hopefully, with your criticism and feedback, I can learn how to get better one step at a time
Game programming. You may love it, you may hate it, but any way you go around it you’re going to have to do some programming if you want to make a game. And, since it must be done, you might as well make the code efficient, understandable, and usable while you’re at it. Today I want to talk a little bit about functions and how they should be one of your most powerful programming tools.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert programmer. If you are, then you will probably find this article boring, uninteresting, and not the work of a professional. I’m a simple country boy, folks (quite literally), so I approach programming the same way. Also, this article is written from a C#/XNA perspective since that’s what I use (at present) for making games – but it is for all game designers, even the non-programming ones!
I can at least try to help with code. Relationships, not so much.
1. Why use a function?
Functions, in short, are designed to help you accomplish the same purpose over and over again. They can also be nifty organizational tools. The key, however, is to not just make a function, but to design it for a particular, powerful purpose. For example, let’s say I’m getting ready to write some code to shoot a weapon. I’ll need to initialize a new “shot,” “bullet,” or “pellet” (whatever you want to call it) and give it certain characteristics. The code may look something like this:
NewBullet.ArtStyle = 0;
NewBullet.X = 182;
NewBullet.Y = 76;
NewBullet.Speed = 15;
2. The power of functions
If you’re like me, it’s very easy to get into the habit of thinking, “Radical! That’s easy to program, so I’ll just write this code for whenever I press the ‘Z’ key!” Hold the phone, cupcake champion. You need to think that through before you do it – or you’ll end up with some terrible spaghetti code (this is the voice of experience speaking). Why not make a versatile, powerful function to do this for you? And make sure to comment about it so you remember later just what it’s doing:
//This function is used to place a new bullet into our scene. ArtStyle tells us which art files
//to use at rendering. X and Y are self-explanatory, as is Speed. The 'Friendly' boolean can
//be used to tell us whether the bullet will harm the player or not - so we can use this
//function for the enemy AI too!
void PlaceBullet(byte ArtStyle, float X, float Y, float Speed, bool Friendly)
(placement code would follow, but we've already talked about that)
See what I’ve done here? I’ve created a function which I can use over and over again to get things done faster. I can use it when my hero shoots, when an enemy shoots, or even if I just want to make a box in the corner do some shooting. On top of that, I can call the function three times in a row to create a triple shot or something along those lines. A good function should expand your creativity, not stifle it.
Also, functions give you this. Just look at that face, dude.
3. The cost/benefit approach
Yes, it takes a little more time to make a function instead of just writing some code straight into your game. It takes more planning, too. But it is well worth it. Don’t think about the short term when you’re coding. Making great functions is like building a foundation. Sure, it takes a while to get it done. But when you’ve completed that foundation, the rest of the building can go up in a matter of weeks. If you don’t have a good foundation, it’s going to take longer to make the house, it’s not going to stand up well, and it’s gonna’ look like crap. So what type of code are you making? Something clean and efficient, or spaghetti code that’s destined to fall apart at the first touch?
4. The conclusion
First, let me say that the shooting example I used above is insanely simple, and I know that. It’s the point that I’m trying to focus on here. We should not shy away from laying good, solid foundational code for our games, and functions are an important part of that. No matter what language/framework you’re using, figure out how to make powerful functions and implement them regularly. Also bear in mind I’m not trying to write an exhaustive article on the subject nor am I saying this is some brand new revelation to game design. We know we should make good functions, but more often than not I find myself tempted to fall into the old, “Well, just this once I’ll slide some code in and not bother with the function.” Don’t do it – make those functions!
SIDENOTE: I know some reading this may not be doing any coding in the traditional sense but you’re instead using a design tool like GameSalad or Stencyl. Don’t think you’re exempt! Create special “function actors” which don’t appear onscreen but you can call to carry out often repeated actions.
If you’re like me, you’re a terrible artist. You’ve never taken art classes, and when you were a kid people couldn’t tell if you were trying to draw a person or a genetically mutated worm. Let’s face it: you stink at making art for games.
That leaves you with a big decision: do you try to learn how to make good art, or do you shovel out the big bucks to hire a professional to make art for you? (For example, they say a good bit of Jonathan Blow’s $200,000 budget for Braid was spent on art alone) For most of us indie devs, option two simply isn’t possible, but option one seems like absolute insanity. The truth be told, trying to learn how to make your own game art is insanity. The good news? You’re an indie game developer! You’re already crazy!
When it comes to making art for your game, I personally feel that pixel art is the perfect place to start. It’s small, which always means easier. It’s also quite simple a lot of times, which makes it good for experimenting and learning different techniques. This will lead into later art developments which will be to your benefit. Don’t get me wrong: it is going to be challenging. But you just may pull it off! So here are some pointers to help you increase your art skills.
1. Look at reference works! Google “pixel tree” in image search. You will be amazed how many pixel trees – and different types of pixel trees – are out there for you to examine. Take a look, get some ideas, then try to make it yourself. Below is an example of a grass/stone tile I’m using in Super Mega Bob. I used about five different reference materials to put together my concept of how to pull it off.
Yeah, I know. . . it’s so beautiful it moves you to tears!
2. Draw every time you get a chance! I teach at a private school all day long before I get to pursue my game making dreams in the evenings. As a result, I have a beautiful whiteboard at my disposal just about all the time. Not only do I doodle on it when I get the chance during the day, I also make doodles in class to better explain what I’m teaching. My skills and confidence increase, and sometimes the students even tell me it actually looks nice. Believe it or not, all that drawing/building of confidence really helps!
3. Be open to criticism! Let’s face it, we’ve all sat somewhere and had our imaginary interview with IGN about what it took to become an amazing indie game developer. We worked, we toiled, we made one game, put it online, and the people immediately flocked to us like cows to grass because – let’s face it – we’re an amazing indie developer. For those of you that have already released a small indie title, you know that such is not the case. And many developers have trouble taking negative criticism. Welcome! It’s part of the industry. Some people will love your work, and others will give you extremely valuable criticism which you can use to make the game better. Be open!
I hope you can learn a little bit about making better pixel art from this blog. Please take the chance to subscribe to the RSS, follow on Twitter, like the FB page, and stay in touch with Jenito! I’ll talk at ya’ later
Sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote. Life, as usual, has been pretty crazy. The good news is that I should be getting on a more consistent schedule here soon, and I’m making Jenito my serious “hobby pursuit.” My goal for the next year is to broaden my social interactions; put more small, free projects on the market; complete one or two large projects; and try to finally monetize Jenito products in some feasible way (even if small). I’ve started realizing that indie pursuits have to be followed out of a passion for the art form, and monetization needs to be viewed in a reasonable light. If you make $2,000 in a year form you gaming hobby, you’r ahead of the curve, really. I mean, I don’t make that much from it. . . yet!
So, I don’t have much time to write here, but I thought I would share a few little tricks I’ve picked up recently when it comes to expanding your base of fans. Here are some “steps” you can follow that are working for me:
STEP 1: Make sure you’re on social networks! There’s no excuse for not having a Facebook page and Twitter account. Get a web page going. WordPress leaves the world without an excuse to make a good website. In short, get online!
STEP 2: Post content! I’ve started tweeting “GameDev Tips” on my Twitter account. And you know what? I’ve picked up brand new subscribers just because I’ve been posting unique content and doing it regularly. Reply to Tweets. Put pictures on your FB. Write blogs. Hey look! I’m taking my own advice right now
STEP 3: Understand the idea of free games! Sure, we all hate giving our work out for free. But you’ve gotta look at the long term. I’m getting ready to make a free game and distribute through this site and probably Desura. Why? Because I just want to throw free stuff out there? Sure, that’s great, but better than that is my plan to integrate the website, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all into the game. More followers, more fans, more subscribers. . . all of that means free PR when you release a for-profit game! And in addition to that if people really like your free game you can always upgrade it and turn it into a profitable endeavor. So you can’t go wrong!
OK, that’s enough from me for one day. I’m excited about some of the new things I’m working on. My hope would be to turn Jenito into a profitable hobby within the next two years. I’ll keep ya’ll posted on what happens!
So, I’m going to do something I haven’t done in quite some time. I’m going to just plain blog. That’s right. . . I’m going to share my blissful opinion with the world. BRACE YOURSELF.
First, ADDICT has been AWESOME! The overwhelming positive response has been incredible. Thank you all, I really appreciate it. Sorry for not posting more updates on the website, I’ve just been busy between ADDICT, TTYPC, and new YouTube Let’s Play I’m trying to (dismally) start, and my own personal life which is becoming increasingly busy. That said, I really want to stay “in the game”
So, why do I have a picture from the Skyrim Dragonborn expansion on my main page? What is this “rumination” all about? Well, it’s come to my attention that there are many aspiring game developers out there. And then there are “little developers” like me who are always looking for encouragement/confirmation, a feeling that you’re not alone in the joys and frustrations of game development.
Here is the essence of my “rumination” – people expect a whole dang lot from Indie Game Developers. Have you noticed that? And why not? Shouldn’t we all expect a lot from game developers? I mean, who wants to play crappy games?
But take a moment to think all this through with me. ADDICT has received huge, overwhelmingly positive reaction. And I am soooo happy and feel soooo blessed by that! So please understand that I’m not complaining in this blog. I’m just sharing some things I’ve learned from reality. What sets ADDICT apart from, say, Skyrim? Well, for one thing, Skyrim is about 1,000x as awesome (you’re talking to a serious Skyrim fanboy here ya’ll). But I think there’s something else. . . product placement. You see, with a game like Skyrim or the Dawnguard and Dragonborn expansions, people don’t look at an advertisement and say, “Meh, a new game is out.”
No, no. . . they say, “AW YEAAAHHH MAN A NEW ELDER SCROLLS GAME BABAAAYYYY GOTTA HAVE THEM EXPANSION PACKS YO!”
I mean, I did!
And so we, the gaming masses, buy the game. What got me to thinking about this was my recent purchase of Dawnguard (I know, I’m behind the curve). AWESOME gameplay. Love the crossbow addition. Also, there’s this:
Seriously. Watch that. If you don’t you just won’t get my point at all. I experienced this, what you see in this video. That’s right. Skyrim just puts a nice happy little gate in at THE ONLY STINKING EXIT. And how to fix that? Why, just walk through the wall! After all, why not? I mean. . . YOU ARE THE DRAGONBORN!
Now here’s the funny thing. I’m not upset with Bethesda. They’re incredible. I love Skyrim. I don’t think this is “total crap” and that they’re just “idiots” for making this kinda game. Cut em’ some slack! I mean, for crying out loud. . . Skyrim is HUGE. I would NOT want to be doing to debugging on a game like that. Can you even imagine? It’s more massive than I even want to think about!
But you see, here’s the thing. Because of the product placement on Skyrim – it’s all over Steam, the web, etc. – it sells like crazy. And rightly so, it’s awesome! Then, after selling a few hundred thousand copies, bugs creep up. People realize it’s not perfection. Trolls begin their attacks on the “morons” that made it. But in the end, people realize it’s still awesome and the game continues to sell. And hey. . . I think that’s the way it should be!
Here’s my realization for us indie developers – we don’t get the “product placement.” We don’t get the “assumption” that our games are perfection. Gamers who won’t hesitate to drop $60 for, say, another Call of Duty or some awesome RPG, suddenly become all finnicky about that whoppin’ $1.99 price tag on ADDICT. As one commenter said, “This game looks awesome for free, but money? Not so much.”
Because, after all, indie developers are just supposed to give their hard work out for free! Because Jos Shmoe deserves it for free, apparently.
And so, instead of, say, 1,000 copies sold, ADDICT still sits humbly under 40 copies sold at this point. Granted, I’m close to that lofty goal. But it’s still under 40 copies sold. Why? Because the game is crap? Well, it’s not stellar, but it certainly isn’t shabby. What it all comes down to is the simple fact that, even though ADDICT does not even BEGIN to have the bugginess of something like Dawnguard, it simply isn’t going to be bought by an increasingly bureaucratic gaming generation here everything has to be “professionally” produced. Or featured on a big website.
OK, I’ve spoken long enough. Let me close by saying a few things. First, I’m not complaining. I’m not seeking pity. I’m trying to share some encouragement. Don’t get discouraged when people mock your game. Sure, you may have made some mistakes. But does the player have to walk through walls because you put a stinkin’ gate in front of their exit? Probably not, so just calm down and relax. You’re not bad at making games.
Secondly, and finally, yes – there are other indie developers out there just as frustrated with incredibly low sales numbers as you. Welcome to the world of indie games. The old “make a good game and people will buy it” thing doesn’t always work. Thousands of new games are coming out on a daily basis. Try to fathom that. . . thousands. Some times you just have to get back up, release an update, and try your hand at the next project. And, most importantly, enjoy makin’ games!
All right folks. . . I’m done!