Each new idea I wanted to add had to pass a series of questions. How long will this take me? Can I do something easier? How sure am I that this will be fun? What will I have to learn to complete this? The answers to these questions would determine if my idea was worth implementing. This saved me time by avoiding big changes that I would eventually throw away.
3. Agile Development
When I started working on Wordsum, I created a version of the game with only the core elements. This was a single screen that created a new row of letters every N number of seconds until it filled a grid and informed the player the game was over. There was no input or any real game mechanics. It was a start and a milestone I had reached.
The first iteration of my game only had these core elements:
- a single screen
- rows of letters
- a timer
The screen filled with new rows of letters every N seconds based on the timer. Once the grid was filled a message displayed to the player that the game was over. It was simple: no input, no real game mechanics. It was my first milestone and I had reached it. Even though it wasn't a playable game, I showed it to people (even though it was lame) and explained what it would evolve into.
From there, I worked on the basic gameplay loop. I started adding the ability to select letters and a button to submit the selection. Next I added logic to determine if the selected letters was a dictionary word. These steps led to iterations that could be played by users. Building the game in layers made my code better and more modular. Each time I completed a milestone and pushed out a build, it felt good. This progress is what kept me going and prevented me from losing sigh of my end goal.
From there I worked on the basic gameplay loop. Once I had a build that someone could actually “play”, I showed it to my friends. It looked really bad and played just as bad but being able to build the game in layers made my code better and was a big motivator. Each time I completed a milestone and created a build, it felt good. This progress is what kept me going and prevented me from losing sight of my end goal.
Things that went wrong
1. Choosing A monitzation strategy
Making money as a game developer is hard. Making money as an mobile indie game developer seemed almost impossible. I doubted whether people would buy my game. Free to play seemed like an obvious choice at first because it was easy to convince people to download the game and try it. I found that most that tried it, liked it a lot. I made some money from advertisements as well as In-App Purchases. This was great but in the end I wasn't making a lot of money. This was partially due to my download numbers being too small. This was due to the game not being social which made it very hard to get the word out. Also, I found it hard to implement IAP in this type of game without upsetting players and just being down right shady.
If I had charged $0.99 for the game and received half the downloads, I would have made much more money. I feel like my game was much more suited as a paid game rather than a Free To Play game. I'm really glad that I got as many people as I did to play the game but I should have had more confidence in Wordsum and asked for money upfront.
2. No artist
I’ve tried over the years to work with people on different types of projects. My results varied but most of the time, interests faded and I was left doing the work. I let this be an excuse for not finishing things. This time I wasn’t going to let that hold me back. Lucky for me, the resources available to game developers has gotten to be pretty amazing over the years. Things like Unity’s asset store provide a market place for you to purchase everything from 3D models to sound systems. While you still have to make the game, having this available helped me complete Wordsum and even make it a good game.