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  • Developing With An Eye For Efficiency

    [04.19.18]
    - Tuomas Erikoinen

  • Art, Design & Audio

    My projects often start based on other games, sometimes even straight up copying mechanics. But as the project evolves, it usually turns out to be something else than a rip-off. If it doesn't, and it feels too much like its predecessor, I'll just scratch it and start something new. However I think it's a good starting place to rip off something that works well, since someone else has done most of the design work already, and I can reap some of the benefits by making a new version of the same. In the end, everything is a remix anyway.

    I'm not a good traditional artist but I've got an idea on what looks good. I've realized this early on, which has lead me to only approach simplistic art by using my technical knowledge. Most of the art in my games are just plenty of "disguised primitive shapes" put together with an idea of how the big picture should look like. This, again, enables me to create good looking stuff fast without having to spend time on concept art or even learning how to actually draw. I use a lot of references to skip the concepting phase, meaning mostly going to Google and search for " cartoon" and quickly glancing on how others have conceptualized the same thing.

    For small mobile games I don't think audio even really needs to enter your thoughts, it just needs to happen. There are so many good-enough free or very cheap sources online that it makes no sense to create your own SFX or background music. It's fun, but not necessary in order to be efficient. I've done some audio myself, and had my friends do, but for the bigger picture I know it doesn't make sense. Sometimes, though ,it makes more sense to spend a little longer on something just to have fun, to keep one's motivation straight.


    Getting Downloads

    A lot of people who I've discussed with about getting visibility on the mobile markets are strong believers that it's more or less lottery. They also claim that there are thousands of games that have earned visibility but just haven't. I don't agree on that at all. While it's true that there might be games that for example have a good mechanic, interesting meta-game or a unique idea, I claim that they all lack at least one or more key ingredients that don't make them worthy of publicity. A game doesn't earn its visibility for just one good thing while ignoring other aspects to it. It needs to have, more or less, "everything right." Most indie developers come from a programming background and may ignore for example art, first time user-experience or UX altogether over just good technical implementation or complex gameplay that they find fun.

    This comes back to having everything 80-90% right rather than 20-100%. I strongly believe that the reason for my games' visibility comes through not ignoring any aspect of a game. I find it even more true for the fact that when I released my first game Monkeyrama, it didn't get the visibility I thought it had earned at the time. Now I understand that even though it had good visuals and core mechanic, it lacked the depth and consistency that my more successful titles have had.

    Something else

    I don't think I am a very good leader. I expect same efficiency, results and like-mindedness from others, and when I don't see it, I get frustrated and don't communicate my thoughts very well. I think the reason for this is that I spend so much time inside my own head consciously and subconsciously mixing everything I know, that it becomes something that I can't even verbally pronounce, it's just something that makes me efficient. 

    But Part Time Monkey is already a two-person team, and I can always get better at teamwork by putting my mind to it, and employing the right type of people who can bear me being a little ... cranky at times.

    Conclusion

    By having worked as an artist, technical artist, core-designer, meta-designer, producer, audio dev, and a programmer, and having published close to 10 games on my own with and without publishers, I think my efficiency comes by being able to mash all the learnings and thoughts in my messy head, which leads into quick development by seeing with multiple eyes.

    Or... I have no idea what I'm doing and I've just been insanely lucky. Who knows.

    Games and Dev Times

    Breakout Ninja, ~3 weeks

    Monkeyrama, ~1.5 months

    Space Bang, ~2.5 months

    Silly Walks, ~4 months (together with Simo Kovanen and Asmo Jussila)

    Space Frontier, ~1.5 months (published by Ketchapp, designed by Antti Ilvessuo)

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