Having released my first game three weeks ago and going through the butterflies, I have finally taken the time to reflect on the experience thus far and thought it would be a good opportunity to share it with the world.
Playing off the title of this entry, I have often heard people say that if you build a good product, it should sell itself, right? In my opinion, there’s more to the story that people often don’t pay attention to. For instance we usually overlook the amount of work that has gone behind good products, more so, we overlook the people behind the success and what their past has been like.
Since this is an indie game related topic, let’s look at some examples of success stories. If you look for some of the most successful indie games out there, you’ll come up with titles such as Minecraft, Super Meat Boy, Braid, etc. A quick search behind the people who made these games will give you a general idea that most of these developers had extensive years of experience under their belt, and they likely faced failures before reaching this great altitude. We also end up realizing the amount of work they put behind their products. If you want to understand how these successful indie game developers worked to reach this plateau, I recommend watching “Indie Game: The Movie” to have an idea what these individuals went through.
Then there’s a huge element that many people I know refuse to believe in, which is called “Luck”. Like it or not, luck is involved in our lives everyday. Some people believe that you make your own luck, I think the more accurate statement is if you’re good at what you do and put in the work, you will improve your odds of being successful, but by no means this is guaranteed. Since we’re talking luck here, let’s take a good example in the gaming world. Flappy Bird, a simple mobile game developed by Dong Nguyen over several days and released in May 2013. Fast forward several months, and somehow it went viral, this by no means is taking anything away from the developer, but luck was a huge factor in this case.
So what’s the point of all of this? Given that this is what I’m observing, let me get a little personal about my experience. I have been dabbling with video games for the past 7 years or so. Most of the time I either end up scrapping my prototypes because I don’t like the idea anymore or I end up shelving them due to the lack of time. 4 months ago I found myself in a situation where I had the free time and was doing a lot of work with the Unity game engine. I somehow reconnected with an old prototype that I thought would be an interesting idea for a game, a month later Shape Popper was born (Gameplay footage, more gameplay footage).
The general feedback I got was that the game has a very interesting addictive factor to it but lacks the art. I didn’t care much about that since this was my first game and I was not really expecting anything in return. I made the art myself using Inkscape and Paint.NET, it may not the best art, but it is programmer art. I did get lucky with the music though, I randomly found a very talented musician by the name of Myles Ogilvie (Engirion). Besides being a fellow Canadian, he was also very generous and willing to share his work with me, I highly recommend him 🙂
I’m going to continue my progress and hopefully I can create better games in the future. What this experience has taught me was that you should not expect anything in return, be realistic with your goals and accept failure if you fail. Don’t ignore the other elements that go hand in hand with game development, marketing for example is huge, we live in a an age where social media is very useful in this department, use the platforms available to you and connect with people out there. You may end up being the next Flappy Bird, but don’t bet on it, work for it instead and increase your odds of succeeding.
That’s it for now, maybe the next entry will be a little more technical and I will share how I developed Shape Popper. Until then, back to work for me 🙂