My way to indie developer, the results of several years

For several years now I have been making games. Sometimes in his free time, sometimes in between work, and sometimes instead. During this time, I have released several games, a couple of which may be worthy of attention. In this publication, I want to talk about my path, from a designer who wanted to make games to a designer who makes games.

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Foreword


I really can’t even remember how it all began. As long as I remember - the games were close - always. Soviet electronics in kindergarten, eight-bit in elementary grades, sixteen-bit in secondary, and of course - the first computer games in school. Therefore, it is difficult to say when the desire came to make games yourself ...

Now I work as a graphic designer in a small town and I like my work, but, firstly, there is not much money here, and secondly, I don’t really want to work for someone all my life. In light of the fact that I don’t have the ability to organize teams of more than 1 person, and I don’t like working with customers in principle - you can’t consider creating your own business. It remains to develop indie games, especially since the perspective of this direction as a whole is not in doubt, and the Internet is full of success stories of singles who have achieved crazy success in a fairly short time.

First steps


For several years now, I have been making various attempts to create something that will play and that will bring money, at least the same as in the main job.

The first test ball was an attempt to create a game for Vkontakte. A good action script programmer was found with a very affordable price tag. Together with him, we made my first game - three tests for visual memory, attention and IQ level, which brought absolutely no income and barely covered the costs for the developer - after I sold it a couple of months later. By the way, the game is still alive, although not quite healthy (ratings have stopped working, apparently due to a change in hosting of BD ...):

Screen shots of the first creation
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Then I started the second game for Vkontakte. It was supposed to be a zombie runner on the Alternativa3D engine. The advantage of this engine before the same Unity3d at that time was that for its operation it was not necessary to install anything on its computer except a flash (which almost everyone already has). I drew the whole environment, some interface elements, made and animated 3d models of opponents. The programmer made most of the main gameplay and maybe in a few months this game would see the light, but what happened happened ...

Visual programming


Once, while reading my favorite Habr, I came across an article with a review of Construct2 and realized - here it is! This is exactly what will allow me - the absolute humanities, to make games myself, without the need to pay for the work of a programmer, without the need for miles of correspondence with explanations to him of my ideas and visions of the game mechanic. So, at this moment all the work on the game for Vkontakte with the working name “dead run” was minimized and the immersion in the development of games for mobile devices and visual programming began.

Just a week later, the prototype of the first game was already ready, which was successfully launched on my phone. I must say, this is a pretty pleasant feeling when your ideas do not just remain in the layout of Photoshop - they come to life and behave as the creator intended. In the process, I learned that there is a debugger in my development tool and it’s not necessary to display the changing variables on the screen, and to evaluate the performance, it is not always necessary to run the intermediate results of the development directly on the mobile device.

In parallel with programming (if you can call the process of poking the mouse into pre-prepared blocks that are responsible for the actions and the conditions under which they are executed), the characters of my game, environment, interface elements and other graphics were drawn.

The evolution of the main character
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I must say that with this development format, ideas that are born when drawing a character can be immediately reflected in the code and see how well they fit into the concept of the game, and the development process itself ceases to be tedious by the uniformity, as you constantly have to switch between different types of activities : programming, drawing, inventing various mechanics of interaction, etc.

Googleplay


The first game was created for a rather long and painful period, undergoing drastic changes in the process of creation, all this time, as probably any beginner indie had the feeling that you were making a real hit, that the game after release would certainly bring a lot of money. It was this feeling that gave strength to the multiple refinements of the game and many hours of searching the forums for solutions to emerging problems (by the way, I must say that construct2 has a rather large - live forum where I found answers to 99% of the questions that arise).

And here it is a long-awaited moment - the game is ready, tested by friends and uploaded to googleplay, the description is written, the icon seems to have turned out right:

First game icon
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Holding the shovel in one hand, with which I intended to rake money, with the other hand I pressed the coveted “publish” button and ... iiiii ...
Crazy 200 downloads in the first two weeks after publication and the game drowned in countless other games without falling into any of the tops in one country of the world:

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He who does nothing is not mistaken, I thought, and set about creating the next game. This time it was decided to choose a genre in which success is most likely. After analyzing the tops of the games, it was decided to make a shooting range, since the ratio of ease of implementation / popularity of the genre seemed to me optimal.

It seemed that creating a simple shooting gallery would not take much time, but in the process of implementation it was decided to add various chips to the game, such as damage zones, different reaction times for different opponents, different weapons, etc. As a result, it all took a little over six months. The result was depressing, like last time: several hundred downloads and a deep immersion in other games of the same unknown to anyone.

Long-awaited success


Rubbing a hole from a rake on my forehead, I set about creating the next game.

This time, it was decided to create a game in a week and, at the same time as launch, place reviews on all possible resources. In accordance with these requirements, the fishing genre was chosen.

No sooner said than done. The game was ready and published in two weeks (it took a week to create and another week to fix all the bugs), along with the release letters were written asking to post reviews of my game on more than 20 sites dedicated to android applications. Of course, with such terms there was no question of adding any interesting features to the game process, the main emphasis was on the graphics and the simplicity of the gameplay.

Graphics and simplicity of gameplay
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As a result - the first, though not big, but success. The game made it to the top new products in Russia and to the main top of Russia, brought $ 1,500 and continues to bring in $ 50 per month.

Installation Schedule
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Attempt number two


Encouraged by the success, in a couple of weeks I released another small game - a puzzle, I used the same methods of promotion as last time, but I did not achieve the result. Apparently this creation of mine was too simple ...

Remembering my first and not deservedly forgotten game, in which so much effort was invested, the idea came up to make the second series of this creation. Almost all the graphics were already ready and it only remained to supplement it with what the previous version lacked. After re-reading the reviews, I tried to fix and add everything that the players asked me to.

In just a month and a half, all the improvements were made, an updated icon was drawn and the game was published.

Graphics for the updated game
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For the past week, how the game appeared in the market. The application fell into the top new in the category of "adventure" in 12 countries and at the very bottom of the top "new games" in Russia.

We have what we have


Here, in fact, all my successes to this moment. If you divide the profits by the time spent, it turns out that every hour spent on development brought me about 8 p. Not a lot ... And yet, despite the modest successes, the desire to engage in the creation of games did not disappear. I plan to continue to upload my crafts on Google Play in the hope of someday making this type of activity my main work.

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