Slime Slayer - Finally published! [Postmortem]
Hey everyone! Welcome back to my blog. If you read my previous blogs you'd know that Slime Slayer was in development for quite sometime. Not because it was a completed game, simply from having a very busy life. I recently had some free time and decided to work very hard to get Slime Slayer released.
This included getting everything ready for the Google Play Store, polishing up the game and developing the trailer.
I thought it would be a great time to write about what challenges I faced so you can be prepared for them!
I've been developing games for quite sometime. When I was around 11 I jumped into 2D game development with Gamemaker and during my teenage years I used Flash. 4 years ago I began working on 3D games and I've never looked back. Whilst they appear to be more intimidating then 2D and of course a lot of aspects regarding 3D are more complicated it's not that bad. If you want to work in 3D but find it intimidating I encourage you to try some tutorials and see how you feel.
Anyway 4 years ago I started with UDK and that was so much fun. Developing environments felt like something I was born to do. After learning basics of UDK I got drawn into a big project using Unity 3D and that was the first time I used this fantastic engine.
Now I'm here releasing my own games on the Android store and I am developing games that could potentially go onto steam. It's crazy to think about.
I developed my skills to a point where I can develop quite quickly and I decided to ask my friend if he wanted to work on a game with me. He would do the marketing and I'd develop the game. We started but his life got very busy and we lost communication, I didn't stop. I really wanted to make something I would be proud of so I kept on going but shortly lost motivation.
You see It was meant to be our project not mine and having someone next to me is always more motivating. Throughout the year I worked on it here and there, I was fortunate enough to be working as a games development teacher and a few of my students were helping to motivate me so I needed to continue development.
The first lesson I had to go through was motivation. This was my first time doing a project that was going to be a product by myself. Finishing projects is so hard and I had to read so many resources just to get through it. Derek Yu has a great article about this here.
At the end of the day you can only rely on yourself as the challenges you face are specifically for you. It's easy to blame everything else around you and to put a project or anything in your life on hold but if you're on the path to becoming the strongest version of yourself you have to push through and get the work done.
The second lesson is having the patience to understand problems and proceed with a solution. At first Google play services looked intimidating to integrate, in the end it was simple but because it was out of my comfort zone and what I interact with everyday It seemed like something annoying to put into my game. I've learnt to relax, be patient and understand the problem. Analyzing it and developing solutions is much more useful then putting it on hold or trying to ignore it completely.
The third lesson is about feedback. Listening to people can be tough, especially if they break down something you've been putting work and energy into. Not everyone is correct but a lot of people have valid criticism even if it's hard to swallow at times. I decided to charge into this head on and get feedback from not only people I know but strangers on Reddit which is pretty terrifying.
Even if you consider yourself a solo developer you need other people. Other people can come up with ideas and give you feedback about things you never would have thought of. Also have at least a core group of people you can go to for feedback and support which leads into my next lesson.
The fourth lesson is about support which is also part of the first and third lesson. Making a game is hard enough but doing it on your own is extremely difficult. If you are a solo developer like me you need a support group or at least one person. Having people to make you feel better when things aren't going great, or you feel like you're making no progress is so uplifting.
Even people to take you away from your work as others will often recognize when you are burnt out and need a break. They'll also know when you haven't worked hard enough or when you're avoiding problems. I don't care who you are everyone needs some form of support. Support doesn't mean you're weak, It's intelligent and shows that you understand that other people can help you get further.
All of these are important but this is one of the most valuable lessons I learned, scope. Scope defines how big or small your project is. If you scope big for a group of 500 you might be looking at making the new Skyrim. If you scope big for a group of 5 you might be making the next super hot. If you scope small for a group of 3 you might be looking at the next crossy road.
Hopefully you understand where I'm coming from. Scope is difficult for everyone on a few different levels. You have to take an honest look at your own abilities which means dealing with your ego. You have to take a look at your resources and how much time you really have. This is intimidating for everyone at the start but you get much better at it with practice. As your skills increase so will your scope and confidence allowing you to pursue greater things!
Here is my greatest discovery of scope for all indie developers right now. Take a look at Ridiculous fishing, Super Hot and Cluster Truck. Each of these games have amazing elevator pitches. I believe these pitches are so important as each of the games here can have a prototype in under 7 days.
If you are designing an awesome game mechanic consider developing it into a pitch. If you can make a one line pitch like "Time only moves when you move" You have something with amazing scope! All you need to do is make sure the components around it are within scope as well. This involves things such as level design, art style, obstacles, enemies, etc etc..
I haven't done this myself with my past two games but it's something I'm going to do from now on. Figure out the elevator pitch, scope the project from that and then make a prototype. If people enjoy your prototype then you know you're onto something, if not then scrap it. You've invested less then 2 weeks and you can know whether to proceed or not, it's so much better then writing a massive design document for everyone to read!
Finished not perfect. I say this quote all day everyday and not just to myself! When I was teaching I'd repeat it to students, I actually learnt this phrase from my ex student Ray! I'd recommend checking this video out as it'll explain this concept far better then I will :)
That's it! I've written everything I considered to be important. I hope some of this is of use to you. I may have rambled at some points but hey, I'm new to this.
If you enjoyed this article and considered it of use then check out my game :)