First let me take a breath and say what a journey indie game development is...
If you know me already hi :) and thank you for coming back, if not, let me introduce myself...
My name is Dilmer Valecillos and my role can vary from time to time. Sometimes I see myself as a coder, a founder, a marketer, a graphic designer, a level designer and to be honest I do whatever it takes to complete a game. I also get called entrepreneur, a gamer, and an indie game developer, but most importantly just OBSESSED with everything I do.
About 3 years ago I started working on a game called Stickman World, the goal was to make a fun puzzle platformer and ship it to iOS and Mac. The game estimate was 1 year to completion and as I think back now I honestly had no idea of what I was getting myself into.
I never would have imagined to take 3 years when starting Stickman World, well it did, it took a lot of work well let me say it again, IT TOOK A LOT OF WORK, but I did complete it and I was finally able to release it just about 4 months ago.
I couldn't sleep the night before launching Stickman World and still to this day can't stop thinking about all the games I want to create in a short and long term strategy.
My first game Stickman World received a lot of positive feedback from many media places and everyone kept saying how amazing it was that I finished a game from start to finish on my own time and having a day job. We know that a high percentage of indies never finish their projects, in addition I felt that Stickman World graphics were great and gameplay as well so it was delivered with the quality I expected to have. To be honest, I feel great about releasing but I couldn't stop thinking about why it took so long, why did it take 3 years, why so much time...
Later on I came up with a plan, I started writing down everything I felt I could improve on and I had pretty good idea on how to optimize it, but didn't know exactly how. The process was honestly not rocket science but it did take a long time to make sure I could develop good habits and practices.
Research your game idea very very well. Whatever it takes, you must proof to yourself by using prototypes that what you're building is the right game. This means that your prototype must be playable. This means that you must let someone else play it, someone that you don't know that can tell you right in your face how much they hate it or better yet love it.
Your game must be built procedurally. Hand made levels suck period, they take a lot of time. I created Stickman World and crafted each level myself, it SUCKS, a change will affect every level, so avoid it as much as you can. The preferred method is to procedurally generate levels, you get that done right and level design will go very smooth.
Add everything you will need to finish your game. I use Trello so use whatever works for you, but make sure to follow a process. Use Agile methodologies which will help you cut your work into smaller tasks and prioritize it, I found this to help me move in my project much quicker and therefore kept me very motivated.
Share A LOT of you game progress in social medias. Do not be afraid, screw people who hate it, share the heck out of it, let people know about what you're building, trust me this will motivate you because you are not alone and people in the indie community are very supportive.
Iterate, keep your Trello board fresh, make sure you are completing what you agreed on from the beginning. If you look at the whole project and you can't seen to be able to finish by a certain date, then kill features, don't be afraid, I want you to finish a game.
There is no perfect game, never ever try to be perfect.
Join Forums, clubs, get around the game dev community, trust me this will help you a lot.
About a week after having a process down, I decided to start a new game, however this time I was going to be honest with myself, from day one I had a goal of finishing the new game in 3 months. I mentioned this in social media, forums, etc and made it clear to everyone that this was my new project and that whatever it took I was going to compete in a very short amount of time. (Never giving up quality)
Long story short, Cubiques took exactly 62 days to complete!
Again my anxieties are hitting me right now since it launches for iOS Mac and tvOS June 22 which is today base on the date of this article. Also tvOS wasn't in the plan and I took extra days to port it to that platform, this was scope creep which I am learning to improve on.
Now I feel way tired, but with a huge motivation to go over my process again and see where I can optimize it. To me I could keep a strategy of 2-3 months for each game regardless of the scope, the bigger the game it gets, the more resources I need, and best practices are critical for its success.
After submitting Cubiques to Apple a new game called Tiny Rooms was born, which I plan to ship in 2-3 months as well but with a much larger team and a better process. With Tiny Rooms I plan to optimize the process again and continue on in my learning curve, every project has its own set of challenges and making sure you have as much ground work done is a key for success.
Anyhow I hope this inspires people and it was and it is a huge accomplishment for me as a professional and wanted to share it to everyone here :)
Also I have a day job in a non related game field, and all this work was done after hours, 2 kids and a wife which should give you an idea of all the challenges I experienced.
Thank you for your time and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter, also be sure to find me at @dilmerv and stop by and say hi as I love to chat with everyone.