Thursday, 15 November 2012 0 comments

Six months in turmoil

Having released Astavoid back in April I very much saw that as a springboard to my 10,000 hour project. I had delivered on a lifelong dream to write a game, however basic, and now I was ready to make something more complicated.

This was my first error. Having remained focused on Astavoid to make a game that was simple and therefore achievable meant I got it finished. However, on reflection I bit off more than I could chew meaning my ambition outweighed my ability and I become disillusioned a little. I was attempting to write a grid library that meant I could do a game like train yard, polymer, letterpress etc and have a formula that was repeatable to get more games out. However, as I evolved the grid I lost focus on my goal of the library and started dabbling with no real purpose.

As writing this its a little like therapy and maybe I'm being harsh on myself but I feel I had lost 6 months development time and certainly hoped to have at least one more game released in my first year.

What I ended up with was a partially complete grid library and some prototyped game ideas but none of which I particularly wanted to play once complete so why would anybody else.  This is also when I started doubting whether Corona Labs (renamed from Corona SDK) was actually for me.

To qualify this I had chosen Corona after research because of its ease to build to iOS and Android devices. I had launched on both including Kindle with reasonable ease but found the effort to support both outweighed the returns. I found i was getting about 8 times the download on Apple devices. Also I personally found setting up a developer account for Nook tortuous and still to this day haven't pursued so why were my main drivers multi-platform.

Also the true lack of Gamecenter (matchmaking) and iAD support personally limited the direction I wanted to go in. Also having spent $349 on a Corona Pro license I felt pressured to churn out games, to make money to provide a return. On reflection completely the wrong way to manage my projects. While Corona do other an Enterprise license that may overcome these issues with access to native code that is further investment. My biggest bug bear was a lack of IDE and visual debugging. The writing to console was painful and extremely time consuming and took me back 10 years when I wrote classic ASP websites. While in fairness there are third party IDEs such as LUA Glider now on the market they still dont offer the tools that others already have in place.

This led me to Unity. Without a doubt the tool to use at the moment and the possibilities are endless and having made my way though tutorials had quite an affinity for it. The use of C# is closer to my experiences as well. I dabbled with it for about 6 weeks I again found I had lost focus. The trouble I was finding was that it was just such a large tool and again the costs were prohibitive for somebody who had 3k downloads and no revenues. Since I last looked at it fellow Indie Matt Rix has brought out a library called Futile to work in a way I am more accustomed but feel I need some more games under my belt that has more community examples and support.

This is when I made my choice which I'm now content with and refocused and that's Cocos2d / Kobold2d. Its not just one of cost but also the support and maturity of the community. While Cocos2d has proved really successful to date it had suffered in the frequency of its updates, this is where Kobold2d comes in in terms of its efficiencies it brings to the development process such as ARC and full Gamecenter support to name a few. The use of Xcode again gives me tools which I feel have been lacking.

So looking back over my first year as an indie I haven't achieved my ambitious goals in fact got nowhere near (for example Astavoid achieved a highest position of 82 in action category in Spain) but I still continue. A vast number of Indies don't make a second game and to be honest I can see why but importantly I addressed my challenges, refocused and am looking to continue.

 Look out for my second game in the New Year.