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  • Things You May Learn As You Release Your First Indie Game

    - Daniel Prokisch
  • There's always something you could have done better and that's okay.

    Just like the title of this article, my first article on Game Career Guide. I probably could have come up with a better one if I had put a lot more time and effort into it, but settling on this one and getting started, I know that I'll learn from the exercise and probably have some better ideas next time around. My point here is not to be afraid of making mistakes because next time it will be less likely you'll repeat them. Failure is often viewed as a negative thing, when in fact it should be viewed as something that gets you that much closer to success.

    Watch a Grapple Bear trailer here.

    A bit of background about myself: I'm a solo indie game developer coming from an artistic background and I got into game development a few years ago after teaching myself 3D modeling for a conceptual art project. Since then, I've been working on creating games that are challenging yet accessible and beautifully crafted, with a unique art style. In the run-up to the release of my newest game, Grapple Bear, I have decided to sit down and analyze some of the most important lessons I learned from this project and won't be repeating any time soon. As the saying goes, it's good to learn from your mistakes but better to learn from someone else's.

    In this article, I'll be outlining some of the biggest mistakes I made and learned from in the development and release of two commercial games: DamCell and Grapple Bear, so that you might also learn something from them if you are developing an indie game for iOS or Android. Damcell is a puzzle RPG with hand-crafted dungeons, complex environmental puzzles and an uncanny aesthetic. Grapple Bear is a hand-drawn, skill-based platformer with a cartoony art style and physics-based swinging mechanics to move around progressively more difficult levels.

    Here's DamCell iOS release trailer.

    Finding the Fun: Playtesting

    Feedback is, as I know now, an essential element in the early stages of your game's development. Determining whether the mechanic you wanted to use is fun to play with or the puzzles you thought of are easy enough to understand are crucial to making a successful game. I have found that a good way to get free feedback from a relatively large audience is to participate in game jams.

    Game jams are ideal for prototyping and failing quickly, with an almost instantaneous feedback loop. Game jam play testers, unlike your friends and family, are not trying to spare your feelings and will generally tell you what they really think of your game. Therefore, if the feedback you're getting is mostly positive with minor issues then there's a good chance that you have something in your hands that is worth further development. Don't forget that the game you make for the game jam is just the minimal viable product. By this I mean it gives a basic picture of what the game will be like while also being fun to play. At this point, there's still likely a long way to go to make it a fleshed out game.


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