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  • Postmortem: Indie Dev Story

    - James Rowbotham
  • My name is James, I'm an indie game developer (@cbGameDev). I make bigger games with my friends in a studio I helped start up and make smaller games on my own in my spare time! I enjoy the challenge of working on big scale games in a team and I use the smaller games to have some fun, learn and stay motivated through shorter development cycles. This is my first postmortem, I thought it could be interesting to others and useful for myself to reflect on the process.

    Play the game for free here:

    What Is Indie Dev Story?

    Indie Dev Story is an Indie Developer Clicker Adventure. It's like a biography of some of the things myself and the other guys have been through, from sleeping on the floor in a basement flat to getting an office space and releasing a game to Steam. The characters in the game are based on the team I work with and the items that you buy are all things relevant to my journey!


    Why The Clicker Genre?

    I wanted to capture that frantic feeling of being indie and trying to balance everything; working on your game, paying bills, sleeping enough, staying fit and keeping up being social. I had played Cookie Clicker and Clicker Heros before and I liked their intensity but noticed that as you get further into the game interest can fade. I wanted to make Indie Dev Story a short and sweet playthrough, aiming for roughly 8 min from starting in the basement to releasing your game.


    I aimed to make the game in a month, but things got pretty hectic at work and often I wasn't leaving work till 10/11pm 7 days a week. In the end, I made the game over roughly 2 months, making it in 1 or 2-hour chunks in the evenings/early mornings before going to sleep. This was a bit tough as I was tired and sometimes you need more than a few hours to get into something properly. However, at the same time, I think it was beneficial in other ways. Every time I started up the editor, I would play through the game and make notes with fresh eyes on things that would make the game better across the board (sound, UI, animations etc). I usually did a few of these smaller changes straight away as a fun way to warm up before hitting some of the bigger more time-consuming things, like adding a new mechanic.

    Below is the original idea that I wrote down while on a train journey:


    Engine & Art Style

    I used the Unreal Engine 4 as I know it quite well now, it's powerful and blueprints are perfect for someone who doesn't know C++! For the art style, I wanted to try something new. I went with a voxel style because I thought its clean simple look would complement the simple gameplay (2 buttons).

    Below is some of the key reference that I used:



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