Thursday, 31 March 2016

Story of Koschei, part 2: Why solo?

90% of people who hear about my idea to develop a game alone, ask me this question. The other 10% probably wanted to ask it anyway.

The question is: "Why?"

Seriously, why would a person develop a game alone, if most of their friends are developers, IT engineers or designers.

That's a good question, and I think that many solo developers have many different answers.

It might have something to do with your personality. For example, I am very competitive but... only to myself. "Last time it took me a month to write a novel - can I make it 3 weeks this time?" and so on, and so forth. Or maybe I am a control freak, and can't give up creative control to anyone except myself? Or maybe I am antisocial, and other people just don't want to work with me anymore?

All of those are compelling reasons, but there is some objective reasoning behind my solo project. So let's talk about that.

First reason: Koschei is an experimental project for me. Of course, I wanted to create an interesting game that allows my non-Russian friends to learn something about Russian folklore. But I also wanted to experience every step of the game development process. To find out how things work, to learn how much time I spend on different tasks, to know what works and what doesn't. Koschei was a tremendous help with that. For my next project, I won't put dates in my calendar "just because" - now I actually know what makes the timeline.

For example, testing and publishing in AppStore takes long time. The lesson is: don't plan to do your testing over the weekend, if you sent your project to TestFlight on Friday. It might get approved only on Sunday evening, which is too late for anyone to test it. For instance, my last round of testing was supposed to take 1 week - and instead it took almost a month.

Then, choose your tools before you start. Corona SDK wasn't my first choice. I got to it at the end of second month, with a working web application on my hands already. I developed web ap with JavaScript, and it kind of worked - until I realised that I can't find an easy way to make Koschei native for mobile devices, I just don't have enough knowledge. I can't say those 2 months were wasted, because when I turned to Lua - I already had full structure of the project ready, so I didn't need to think much about sorting out the chaos. But at the same time, there are easier ways to understand this structure. Ones that don't involve making a hole in the wall with your head.

And, of course - improvements can never be completed, but only stopped.
It doesn't matter how many versions you have, there's always something to improve. My app was released yesterday, and I've found 2 small bugs already. Maybe this is one of the downsides of solo development - if you didn't see a bug, there's no one else to see it before the release. But on the other hand - you can't postpone your release until "Everything is perfect", as it never is.

Second reason to go solo - I wanted to do an indie project. And by indie, I mean independent of everything and everyone. I had my experience working in a big corporation, where everything is connected to everything else. Where to make a small adjustment, or a feature you need a hundred of signatures, approvals and permissions. I still talk to my therapist about that 8)) Being fed up with this process, I wanted to do something that completely belongs to me, and to not wait for anyone. I worked at my own speed, with my own ideas, and it was like a breath of fresh air. Of course, you need to be good at self-discipline - just to work on code, instead of reading a good book 8))

Third reason - Koschei was a research for me. Not just a research of the process (though it was, and my website writing-interactive-stories.com proves this point). It was a research of myself. Of things I find interesting - or boring. Things I like, and loathe. Not everything went smooth and according to plans, but it is still an experience that I went through. On my own.

p.s. "Koschei the Deathless" in AppStore:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id1089733355


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