Look back over the year when indie game developers released their games for the first time

byEddie Kopp

Kevin Jigele, who abandoned his job as a web developer and worked on game development as an independent game developer, looks back on the 2017 spent as a game developer.

Gamasutra: Kevin Giguere's Blog - Year 1: My full time indie developer life

Kevin Jigele, a 35-year old Canadian programmer, has a degree in Computer Science from a university and has been in a programming related position for 13 years. Most of my work seemed to be web application development, but in the mid 2000s I also worked as a Flash game programmer for three years. However, until he started developing indie games in parallel with his work, Mr. Jigele seems to have never worked in a post named project manager, he said he did not have any experience developing games by himself.

Mr. Ziguel is working as a full-time web developer, while working on the tasks necessary for independence as independent game developers and the development of games that were made for the first time. This first game development will last about 5 years. The fact that the first indies game development does not go wellCommon talkHowever, Mr. Ziguel's first game development also ended in disastrous consequences in the same way. "While I can sell millions of indie titles like Stardew Valley and Undertale, I hope that the average one will sell 1000 copies in the first month," said Jigele.

byCaspar Rubin

In January 2017, Mr. Ziguel quit his job as a web developer and decided to live as an independent game developer. In 2017, Jigere released two games on the game distribution platform Steam.

The first game released is "Arelite CoreThe royal road fantasy RPG. You can tell what kind of game you have by following the movie below.

Arelite Core 2017 Launch Trailer - YouTube

Arelite CoreJRPGInspired by RPG, Mr. Jigele made for the first time "Game that has been developed for about 5 years". Considering the amount paid to artists and composers who requested BGM during the game, production cost will be over $ 85,000 (about 9 million yen), but this game released for Windows is Up to that, it says that it records less than $ 5,000 (about 530,000 yen) on all distribution platforms.

The second game released by Jigere in 2017 is the racing game "Astral Traveler"is. It is different from Arelite Core which retro dot picture was distinguished and it can change and be able to enjoy racing game with 3D graphics. You can understand the actual game screen etc by looking at the following movie.

Astral Traveler Announcement Trailer - YouTube

The development period of Astral Traveler is seven months, which means that it costs about $ 15,000 (about 1.6 million yen) for contracts with living artists, living expenses, salaries for other developers, etc. Astral Traveler was released on 13th September, unlike Arelite Core, he seems to succeed in delivering games for OSs other than Windows. Since Astral Traveler has released only sales of less than 1,000 dollars (about 110,000 yen), the sales ratio is about 12% for Mac and 8% for Linux, the rest for Windows. .

The price of Arelite Core is $ 20 (about 2100 yen), and Astral Traveler is 5 dollars (about 530 yen). Apart from game salesTwitchMr. Jigele said that she received a donation of about 2000 dollars (about 210,000 yen) at the delivery at. This seems that the income in 2017 is about 7000 dollars (about 740,000 yen), but it seems that the expenditure is about 13,000 dollars (about 1.4 million yen) annually.

Although it turned out to be a large deficit in terms of the balance, Mr. Ziguel said, "The number of sales was not disastrous. Thankfully, I assumed the worst case before becoming a game developer But I can not help but said that it was unexpected that only 6% of the development costs of the two commercially released games (with game sales) could not be covered. " .

Mr. Ziguel said that he lives a rather frugal life to keep down development costs even a little. Ziguel has neither a spouse nor a child, nor a car, nor a smoker nor alcohol, he lives a life that completely eliminates luxury such as watching a movie in an apartment house or going to a coffee shop without drinking alcohol It is said that it is. We chose cheap brands for groceries, can not purchase games, and said that they are spending time developing games 70 to 80 hours every week.

Jigele acknowledged that 2017 was one of the most difficult years of his life and created this entry to tell other game developers the wrong assumption that he held him .

The first issue, Arelite Core,RPG MakerIt was released at the timing when many inexpensive game titles made using Steam appeared on Steam. Although Arelite Core made it a retro JRPG-like graphic to show its identity, many similar 2D RPG works using RPG Menu were released Many besides the bad timing, the Steam sales page It was up to tagging to indicate that it was a game created with RPG Menu (deleted at the time of article creation), "This has led to a reduction in the number of sales," said Jigere.

Mr. Ziguel has created a custom engine for Arelite Core, and it seems that the development period has been extended from six months to twelve months. During development, Jigele is Microsoft's compatible Xbox 360XNAI will decide to use the framework, but this was forced to change the framework because it ended in 2014, which also led to a delay in production. Still, the custom engine created by Mr. Jigele is more efficient than RPG McCool and so much more that it was possible. Also, there are multiple points of attention such as crafting systems that create weapons and the like, encounters with dynamic enemies on the screen, unique UI and so on.

Like many beginners of game development Ziguel tried to create various places to explore in the game and diversity of characters and monsters encountered. It seems that he fought hard to give nostalgic feelings to contemporary gamers as if they were making works of the Final Fantasy series, but as a result, not only the production period but also the content of the main part of the game will be long. And development expenses are expanding to unexpected things of 85,000 dollars, but Jigele said that the skill shortage of himself who worked as a producer of the game was also greatly involved.

During game development, Mr. Jigere was in contact with at least five different groups, such as group responsible for graphics and group responsible for sound. For groups that produce static backgrounds and animations for characters, monsters, and visual effects, it is important to communicate settings and provide reference material, and to test and integrate the finished data together in a game by Mr. Jigele's It was a job. Also, during the development of Arelite Core, Mr. Ziguel met with over 20 candidate artists, and he seems to have contemplated who should be in charge of the sound of the game. It is also worth noting that all these jobs were done by Mr. Jigere at the work as a full-time web developer.

Through these experiences, "It is easy to underestimate the tasks needed to manage the team, and it is difficult to find opponents who do trustworthy jobs, even if monetary rewards arise I understood well, "said Jigere. Many of the artists contracted by Jigere were part-time enthusiasts, so updating of the sound data was sporadic or there were many cases where the production time was underestimated. Also, although it was originally planned to release its own game in 2015, it was in the middle of 2016 that we received the final art data from the supplier, "Estimated time for my work creation is wrong Both.

Mr. Ziguel who succeeded in securing the exhibition space at PAX East 2016 in the indie game related event will meet various industry and people in the industry. Although it seems that it exhibited Arelite Core at this event, it seems that it was not accepted with so much enthusiasm and since it is RPG, it is impossible to understand all the merits of the work in the degree that I saw it as a chill during the event period , Travel expenses for participating in the event exceeded 4000 dollars, Jigere wrote that it was not able to get something appropriate for this.

After that, in order to gain as much development cost as possible, Mr. Jigere delivers the development of Arelite Core on Twitch and seeks donation from users. While deliberately hiding the core part of the story, he delivered a state of development, and although the growth of the channel was slow, a community of interest was formed. However, Regarding Arelite Core, I regret that I missed the timing because it was "too late" to deliver with Twitch.

Mr. Ziguel who expected the failure of Arelite Core seemed to believe that the next game development project could advance more various things better. And he thought that there was enough resources to run the next project. And since I had no experience of promoting with my previous career as a web developer, I told my parting to my 12-year-old workplace and decided to bet on the future as a game developer, said Jigele.

Before retirement of course, I saved money as much as possible, I took out the luxuries and prepared for the whole year to concentrate on game development. And we will start pre-production of new game with Bora Genel, Turkish indie game developer. Mr. Ziguel has set the release date of Arelite Core on February 8, 2017, and from that day Genel will start developing new games using Unity. And the year is over, Mr. Jigele will retire safely and start living as an independent game developer, but Mr. Jigere wrote a meaningful sentence "From here is the story really starting".

Jigele finally became a complete independent game developer since January 2017. After releasing the game, it seems that it took time to correct bugs etc. for a while, but the next game development project will start during that time. Players who actually played Arelite Core said they liked the game, but sales were catastrophic as expected. However, as this was also within the expectations of Mr. Jigele, motivation to develop the next game seems to have had little influence.

And, Mr. Jigere is "Astral Traveler" of the game which we developed the second, trying to deal directly with the problem which suffered in Arelite Core. First, to minimize development costs, reduce development time by 3 to 4 months than planned. Do not focus on gameplay and design to not require much assets. And by planning to divide tasks with development partner Genel, we plan to make project more smoothly. Finally the selling price is set at 5 dollars as we have reduced development costs.

In addition, at the Arelite Core, information sharing was not done so that development members and gamers could deepen their interest in the project, so Astral Traveler's development will promptly share information on Twitter. He also said he spent a lot of time to participate in communities and others to improve opportunities to meet industry stakeholders and to improve the communication part. Besides sharing information on Twitter, incorporating live voices such as gamers using Discord and Twitch, the work of the entire project has been improved and "new opportunities were born," said Jigere. Also, Twitch has a patron who donated more than 25% of Mr. Ziguel's annual income, and this wrote that "Luck was good."

Mr. Zigere warned that he had risks in the development of Astral Traveler and prepared a trailer movie and a screenshot in the early stages of game development. However, in reality, the game evolves during the development of the game, inevitably the change also increases. According to Jigele, initiallyTRONIt seems that he was aiming for an abstract and flashy racing game like cyberspace like.

To create enemies and spaceships for racing that will appear during the game, we decide to hire a 3D modeler in the project. Although the job of 3D modeler was splendid, it takes more time than expected to produce it, inevitably the cost also expands. According to Jigele, "At the time of writing this entry, it is not enough to cover development costs in game sales." And when the development is delayed for several months than planned, it is also discovered that the game design has been far apart from the original image. This seems to be because it was impossible to share the image with Mr. Genel, our development partner.

After the twists and turns, the release date of Astral Traveler will be set on September 13, 2017. Initially, many proposals such as the release of the VR version were done, but that one is rejected. Although it seems that the release of the mobile version was planned also, since it was developed for the PC, it became clear that many modifications are required to release the mobile version, "If the game succeeds, even if it is mobile version We will tackle it. "

Also, like Arenlite Core, Astral Traveler will also deliver on Twitch. Although it seems that the game attracted certain attention, this was "far worse than Arelite Core," said Jigre.

"Astral Traveler's failure hurt herself beyond Arelite Core," said Jigere. It seems he knew that Arelite Core had not raised expectations of surroundings from the year before release, but it seems that Astral Traveler felt much better than the previous work. However, when actually released, Astral Traveler was not so noticeable in other racing games.

However, regularly Giguere, who was perceive the epidemic of cheap games and free games to be released in the Steam, in the next month, which has released the Astral Traveler is a free download content of Arelite Core (DLC) "Arelite Core: Lleana's Journey "The development scenery is streaming delivered. Although it seems that there are multiple reviews on this DLC, eventually we could not cover all development costs.

Also noteworthy is that none of the games released by Jigere had any interest in influencers. I heard that you sent e-mails to several game distributors and YouTuber, but it seems that there has never been a reply.

From such a lesson, it seems that Mr. Jigele feels the need to avoid pre-established game genres and themes.

One month after the release of Astral Traveler, Jigele decides to develop the next game "Tech Support: Error Unknown" while streaming it. Under the UI like Windows, this game is a technical support expert to challenge problems such as chatting with customers and intimidating companies. In the game, we interact with customers using the chat window. As the story progresses a lot of things are possible and it seems that we can hack the system from the command prompt as well.

In 2017 it is said that it was the most difficult year of Mr. Ziguel's life even to say the least. The revenue has declined to 20% so far, and he said that he continued game development for 30 to 80 hours every week for released games. Of course it is not necessary to get up early in the morning because I do not commute to the cold winter day where the ground froze and I can do the work at my own favorite timing, but sometimes I work more than 12 hours a day for 7 days a week , He seems to want the next game to be a big hit.

Still, Jigele feels privileged by becoming an independent game developer, and it gains tremendous support from viewers and patrons gathered in distributing their own development scenery, even friends and family members I appreciate being there. Thanks to the support of these people, we are able to develop the third game, but even then it will fall back to the situation of disappointing the surrounding people with the same bad result as in 2017 Jigere is worried whether it is.

Failure is a chance for learning and growing for many projects. As Jigele got various knowledge from many industry stakeholders, his own experience is supposed to be helpful for other game developers.

in Game, Posted by logu_ii