I remember reading in one of the game design related books, to say this loud everyday
I am a game designer, I make games.
Well, I’m willing to start this effort from now on atleast!
I am an Electronics engineer by education, Software Engineer early in my profession , and now in General Management in Research and Development of Medical Devices. Around 2012 is where I started looking deeper into Games and the underlying design/mechanics etc, especially attracted with the popularity of Candy Crush. From then on, I’ve been dabbling with Unity3d, making prototypes of more than dozen games, may be uploaded couple of them to play store but nothing to show for.
But deep down inside, I know I have it in me to conceptualize, prototype, iterate, produce and release a good game that can actually profit.
I am a game designer, I make profitable games
During the last decade, I realized some fundamental truths regarding indie game development, especially in Mobile Space.
- Premium for Mobile is (almost) dead
- May be Apple Arcade is trying to reverse this trend
- Free to Play is the king when it comes to revenue, but User Acquisition budgets for indies is out of reach if you’re looking at a level playing field. Its impossible to compete on money for indies.
- Candy Crush success doesn’t mean any indie dev can make a equally good Match 3 game and succeed.
Its been 9 years since I got this game development bug, and I always prioritised career (software engineer→Management trajectory) over my personal interest of making good and profitable games. Add to that family, kids. Someone with a growth mindset would say these are excuses. I wouldn’t argue!
All the while my approach has been on coming up with prototype, and constantly ending up in over-optimising the design without taking any player feedback. The main reason being, I believed, that my concept is a unique one and people will steal it. Also the fear of getting ridiculed. I have gotten good feedback for couple of concepts I posted on Reddit, then I started making them – and got completely lost in the design of progression. I’m sure I’m approaching this wrong.
I’m planning to make some life changing decisions regarding my game development career. I have to and WILL make it big someday. I just know I can.
Always start with end in mind. This is what the end appears to look like, but if this happens – I would call that a beginning. Having a goal doesn’t hurt.
Make a game where I make 100k USD in profit after all my costs
So at a high level, the main reasons I am not addressing enough are
- Not having enough personal discipline and sound method for progressing.
- Not completing Games
- Getting lost in details, overthinking
- Not knowing enough about games and their design
- Not collaborating with enough people from the industry to see how it’s done
- Play Games. Regularly.
- Dissect them, understand why they are good, bad, ugly.
- I have a Switch and a Macbook – so use them!
- Make small scale games, put them on itch.io or some website where feedback can be obtained and see where I need to improve on my basic game design skills
- Don’t try to get into how to make 100 levels, how to implement multiplayer , how to handle server side data collection, how to do good art etc.. Too much!
- Get ready for brutal feedback. Don’t give up.
- Participate in Game Jams.
- Make a portfolio of good games, even though they don’t make money – at the same time spend only time on them. And not $$$.
- Read books on Psychology / Game Design / User Behavior / Monetisation / Retention etc
- Listen to podcasts (like DoF etc)
- Write publicly about Game Design
- Tweet and Blog your progress
- Reddit participation
- Build a community that follows you for your game design inputs / insights into games
- Make good collaborations in the gaming industry
- Build soft skills
- Approaching a fellow game developer / audience
- Articulating a concept
- Communication, Presentation etc
Some typical distractions for me are – learning Flutter or Full Stack development for job security. I have not been coding for a long time (coz I’m in Management) and I believe that my fallback profession would probably be getting back to Software development. I have to get over it and trust that game design path will lead me to better success. If I have a good portfolio of small games, why wouldnt I get a job in a Gaming company ? May be that’s destiny. All the effort I put will definitely not go down the drain.
Based on the strategy above, I need to assess where I stand. And a short term / long term plan for improvement.
So this is my multi-year journey. In Public!