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The Mechanical Heart: Solo+ Development

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The Mechanical Heart

Development Blog

I had planned on writing about screen shake this week, but unfortunately the screen shake I came up with didn't look as good as I wanted. So (hopefully) I will get time to finish it next week. So instead I would like to talk about a development style (/ team size) that I have adapted for The Mechanical Heart which is Solo+ Development.

What is Solo+ Development?

I am pretty sure I am not the person who coined the term, I think I may have first heard it at Develop 2014, after extensive googling I couldn't find a mention on it on the internet so I might have just coined it. Solo+ development (at least my definition of it) is one person creating a product, in this case a game, and areas of that product is outsourced to freelancers. The company is owned by the person creating the product.

The Pros

  • One of the perks to solo+ is the fact you have no partners and/or employees to look after. Although I agree that you need to 'look after' your freelancers, this is often easier than having employees. This means your company will be easier to manage.


    • Pure Solo Development is risky, ever tried making a cup of tea whilst juggling knives and riding a unicycle? Having to create the sound and art assets along with the code and not to mention game design is a lot to have on your plate. I am not saying it is impossible, but this is where time management is critical. I have serious respect for any pure solo developer!

      • Work when you want. If you are a procrastinator you might want to consider this as a negative, but being able to set your own schedule of things is a real life saver when you have a traditional job on the side. One week you could set up to add in a debug console, the next is to add a whole new mechanic. Flexibility is key when you have other commitments.

        The Cons

        • It can be lonely at the top. Not having one board with the project can be demotivation at times. Even not being able to talk about the project when ever you want is a real bummer.

          • Feedback is often hard to come by. Without a team to tell you your idea is stupid, or that feature X should be like A you can carry on with a plan that you have had for months, only to realise you have wasted development time.

            • Communication with freelancers can be tricky at times. Not being hired under a full company can lead to freelancers not feeling confident in the product and dropping it / stop doing work. This has happened to me twice now, and believe me when I say that these issues sneak up on you, usually you only see there was an issue when you look back and wonder what went wrong.

              Preventing The Cons


              Addressing the first two is easy. To anybody, I would suggest creating a blog, this allows you to express yourself about the project and seeing other people liking your project and giving feedback is a real motivator. It also lets you evaluate where you have come from, being able to look back and see how your project was weeks or months ago, and seeing how much you have progressed will spur you on to carry on development.

              For the communication, I hope I have solved my communication issues. Now I am using slack, it is a communication tool which allows teams to talk to each other. What this has which other services doesn't is different chat rooms and the fact it is on lots of different platforms. For example I usually talk to my artist using my mobile, and he is on PC.

              That just about wraps it up, no doubt I have forgotten a few points, so may edit this a few times.

              Until Next Time!

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Recommended Comments

I really liked this blog, it is almost article worthy. Nice job! Btw, slack is a pretty nice tool for those who are wondering wtf it is.

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Thank you, I was thinking about writing an article on this. This is kinda a dry run :)

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