Sometimes one just have to do a status post.
“Shipping a 1.0 product isn’t going to kill you, but it will try”, some wise dude once said. Now, my work week is way too balanced for this to happen, but for the last two weeks I’ve felt it, and I have “been there”, if not else, at least mentally. I could and should push the progress of my game much more, but it would be against one of the main pillars of my so-called life improvement plan: don’t let the family duties slip due to this new career of game development. But I’ve been such a good boy that I think I can get away with a bit more now for the coming couple of months – it’s crunch-time until release now, after all.
My mind has been all over the place due to this one-person indie game studio setup. It didn’t come as a surprise, but that doesn’t mean all the various tasks aren’t daunting. Why don’t they tell us it will be this hard to make even a simple game? …oh, wait, actually every article about the subject has that as the second bullet point. Never mind.
To get my head around all the tasks – not only coding, but also marketing, building, distribution, features, graphics, audio, and so on – I took good use of my whiteboard. Boom, some Post-its and you have yourself a Kanban-light. It helps to have the amount of tasks, the task types, and the task descriptions visualized in front of you.
I am aiming to get a version out for beta testing in the coming 7 days, hence I have been focusing on certain aspects of the game. The most important is the game mechanics while graphical “fun” effects come last. All the scenes should work in all resolutions, and all actions should be available. Scoring should be if not fully balanced, fully working so that testers’ feedback is relevant for the final game. If I screw up the scoring balance I pretty much screw up the whole game – the scoring is very tightly tied to the game mechanics. It has to be fair, drive the player towards skillful moves, and reward players who are putting time and effort to play it through. While the game contains also a randomized component, the complex scoring mechanism has been next to impossible to tune and balance as it has not been possible to simulate or calculate the various variables in e.g. Excel.
There are a lot of very important features which are not yet implemented at all. Game Center integration, music and sound effects, I’m looking at you. But I got a smallish beta testing team already in place and want to distribute the game to get first-impressions feedback. I’m using TestFlight to do the distribution and test session data collection.
Very soon now I should receive some more final art for the game and once that is in, I’ll do the official announcement of the game.
It looks like I passed the point of no return!