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Introduction

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Hi fellow game developers.

After thinking a long time about it I've finally decided to share my experiences and thoughts on video game developing. And the loneliness aspect of it when you're an indie working from home. I don't know, and doubt, my entries will be of interest to most people. I will not try to entertain you with spectacular screenshots of my game or extraordinary claims or whatsoever to gain your attention and popularity. My goal is to simply share.

First, my professional background. I'm a mid 40's guy who's been working in computer related fields all my adult life. Started as a computer technician/salesman in late 80's in a small computer store (back when most people had no use of a computer), to then move on to bigger and bigger companies, always as a technician, until the late 90's. Then I caught some of the web design wave as a freelancer for a few years. Studied at McGill University in the mid 00's for a certificate in "Software Development" to get credentials so potential employers would take me seriously as my education by then was only self-taught. By the time I obtained my certificate I had new plans. I wanted to make games. I applied to a few of the video game companies here in Montreal, got a few phone calls but never interviewed.

I still wanted to make games though. I had done some games as a hobby in my web design years and loved it! I knew of the indie community and people making indie games and I was interested by it. But for first, I needed a job to support myself. And second, I read many stories about people telling that there was no money to be made anymore as an indie developer. It seemed I had missed the indie game golden days. This was mid-late 00's. So I kept my non-computer related job at a grocery store I had taken to support me while studying and entered a brain numbing and boring routine while I wondered what to do with my life.

I would however always keep an eye on the indie video game scene. It still was my passion but I was disenchanted. However, I kept reading about those stories about some developers being successful and making a living out of indie game development. I was confused and learned a valuable lesson, "Don't listen to others and follow your dreams!" Those stories that I read that said the golden indie game era was over... Who were they? I don't remember exactly where I read them. But I sure was pissed at myself for letting me discourage. By then it's December 2011 and I'm more decided than ever to make a game. Commercial success or not is not the point. The point is to make a game to the best of my capacity and put it out there and see what happens. I'll be the judge of whether or not the so called indie game era is over or not. Actually we all know it is well and viable, but I'm saying it cause I'm still upset for letting others opinion influence my decision. I should have investigated more about those claims at the time. Who knows, perhaps I would have found out that those people just created crappy games and hoped to make quick and easy money.

We're now February 2016. It's been 4 years and a few months since I started to work on my game. A game that at the beginning I thought would take a year at most. I have to say that shortly after I started to work on my game, things changed and suddenly I had less time to work on my game. I've been working on it at a very part-time rate. That has changed however since last October. I have quit my day job. I've quit not to work on my game full time but because I was fed up. I was going to look for another job to support me while working on my game but then I looked at my finances. I figured it was better for me to concentrate full time on my game and finish it by spring/summer 2016. And that's where I am. Full time on my game and it feels good... and productive.

Productive, it was. I'm now at a stage where I have to polish the graphics and create cover art so I can put my game on Steam Greenlight. I still have programming work to do but I figure with the time it may take for my game to be greenlit it's best to put it there as soon as possible. Having cover art is also good for promoting a game. But that's where I'm struggling. I'm not that bad at graphics but I'm also not that great. And I'm an eternal perfectionist. So it's very hard to be satisfied with my art. And I surely cannot afford someone to do it for me. So the development has slowed down.

That's where I'm at. Turn on PC. Stare at the screen, trying to convince myself to draw but... "I wonder what's happening on Twitter. Let's see how other developers are promoting their game. I'll go socialize a bit on IRC", etc, etc, etc. It seems every excuses for not doing work on my game is good. I take comfort in knowing that at least I stay connected to the game dev related things, and that they could eventually prove useful in promoting my own game. I'm at a cover art, trailer, and soundtrack away from Steam at the moment. And it's been like that for a few weeks now.

It's a long and lonely journey but I'm determined. No matter how much work there is left, I know I will eventually finish the game. There's no other way. The alternative is to give up and lose all that hard work I've put into it for the past years, and that is not an option.

That's about it for today. I hope you've enjoyed as much as it felt good for me. Not sure what the next entry will be like but it would be nice to talk about how it is to put a game on GreenLight.

Comment and questions are welcomed.


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So how about your game, what is it?  At a first glance it looks professional and my first impression was Pac-man with stairs.  Not sure if that impression is accurate of the game play or not.

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Thanks Awoken for your interest and saying my game looks professional. Yes, the game is sort of a Pac-man clone. I try to make it as far away as possible from it though. The stairs are where Reapertom comes in and out of each levels. I didn't like the character "appearing" on the map. At first I added the bottom set of stairs for Reapertom to come in and out. Then decided it would feel more like advancing in the game if there were a different set of stairs to leave. So I added the upper stairs. They act like bunkers.

 

In Pac-man levels end when all the dots are eaten. In my game you have to collect a minimum quota for the exit doors to open. Veggies are continuously growing all over the map, but get a boost when a cloud drops rain onto the ground. Enemies are killed by different means. You can throw stars at them, grab a hammer and hammer them, or they may be killed by a bomb. All of those items are randomly dug up from the ground when reaping veggies.

 

When you have met the quota you can either take the exit door, or keep going to rack extra points. To entice players to eventually take the exit door, and not endlessly stay at the same level, I add more enemies and make them more aggressive.

 

That's roughly what the game play is like. I still have ideas I want to implement and test. I plan releasing on Steam early access and get feedback from players and improve from their suggestions.

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Hey there!

Was great to read about your experiences and I hope you did well till now with your plans!

 

I read you are on Twitter too and found also your account. But I was wondering there wasn't any new entry since January. It could be hard at the beginning to understand these social media platforms but if you want I can maybe give you some advices :)

 

Just let me know, I am a gamedev too and know the problems you have at the beginning! Maybe I can show you how to make nice animations for your cool game :)

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Hi Ocimum!

 

Since that journal entry I have been working on adding new types of enemies. The new enemies are frogs and spiders. They both behave differently so it meant revisiting the engine to accommodate those behaviours. That slowed the progress some but I believe in the end will be worth it. It adds new dynamics and changes the gameplay for the better. These new changes to the engine should be done in a couple of weeks.

 

Yes I know the @ReapertomGame twitter account isn't much active. I decided to promote my game via my company account @HexmindGames instead. I got a handle on twitter but sometimes I wonder if it's the right platform to promote a game... It's a great platform to connect with other devs but i feel Facebook is probably better to reach out to gamers. Time will tell. But if you have advices to reach to many gamers on twitter I'm all ears!

 

I've read a bit on animation on the web. Got some good info and tricks. I find it hard to go back and forth between programming and creating art. I guess for now what's most important is to concentrate on game development and then eventually redo the artwork to my liking. Again, if you have cool tips for making nice animations I'm all ears. Where I think I'll need the most help is on reaching to game reviewers. If you have any tips for that I'd appreciate a lot.

 

I just looked at the video of your game and it looks fun! Got a lot of great user reviews on Steam too! How was your game launching experience? Are you hitting the sales you were expecting?

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