The Wallet Games post-mortem
We’re No Wand Studios, a small group of Spanish developers and we just launched our first game: The Wallet Games.
We would like to tell you our experience and what we’ve learned from it so that whoever wants to embark on the adventure of gamedev can draw conclusions.
The Wallet Games was born from a joke between us. The company had been created recently and thinking about ideas for a game, we thought it would be fun a simulator to throw a wallet on the screen (Hands up who hasn’t made this joke ever). The idea became bigger and bigger, until we decided it would be fun to put our pet Wall-y (the wallet) in the Olympics.
And so it began, with a little joke between us that was becoming more real with the passage of time.
Since the boom of indie games, there’ve been many tools with which to make your games. We chose Unity, why?
Unity has always seemed to us a very powerful tool. As our objective is to create more complex games, we didn’t want to start with a tool like Game Maker or Construct 2 because we’re afraid that they wouldn’t be enough powerful at some time. In addition, the C# language running under Unity has given us a lot of options for coding our future games.
The Unity’s animation tool has seemed quite powerful to us. Over time we’ve found others that would make the process easier, but don’t be afraid to use it.
For graphics we decided to use photoshop. It’s a very powerful tool and our graphic artist had enough experience with it. We wanted to give a casual and cartoon style to our game. When the graphic artist proposed to do it with a cutout aesthetic we were mad about it. We believe he has managed to give the perfect aesthetic for what we want to convey. He chose this kind of graphics because it wasn’t broadly used
One lesson we learned very late, is to group resources. At first, each resource was spent on a single sheet. This made the total weight of the game rise dangerously. When we discovered that you can use the resources even if they are grouped, it was too late to change some. Try to optimize from the beginning.
What went right?
Try to do a small game
Although our goal is to develop games for PC, we didn’t see ourselves able to start a one year or more development. First, because we didn’t know each other as a team, we were friends before but had never worked together.
Second, although part of the team were programmers we had never used the engine that we chose (Unity), neither we had applied our knowledge into a game.
Make the game for learning, not to earn money:
Obviously we want to make money with the games that we do, but it isn’t the main objective of this one. It was more important to present a fun, well made and with good looking graphic game. We wanted The Wallet Games to be a good start of which we could be proud of. And believe us, we’re very proud with the game.
Therefore we’ve decided to make the game free with ads. A single payment (the minimum on each platform) for taking it off, but all functions are activated from the beginning.
An online scoreboard:
When we thought this feature we didn’t think it would have such a success. Putting an online scoreboard to a game of this nature it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made. We confirm that when the beta testers began to compete among themselves for higher positions. We’ve noticed that people like to compete and the theme of the game helps.
Making a game in which you can improve:
The Wallet Games is a game of skill, so we’ve seen how many people started doing low scores and after training a higher score has been achieved, with a wide range of improvement. This is important because it makes people want to replay it. People like to feel that the time you spend in the game is rewarded in the scores.
We’ve finished the game:
No, it isn’t a joke; this is what makes us more excited. We’ve seen many people excited about the project at the beginning and as the months pass abandon unable to cope with all the effort of development.
What went wrong?
The game had a design phase but we didn’t write it down in any document. As a result, the game underwent some changes on the fly and had to redo some work sometimes or extend the days of coding and art more than desired.
Basic things like the design of the menus should be designed in advance. Or the exact functioning of the sports, you can find the unpleasant surprise of wanting to implement some improvements and see that your structure doesn’t allow it.
Because of our inexperience, we calculate development times based on our intuition. We’ve always heard that game developments are longer than planned and we’ve checked it.
On our team we don’t have a musician, so we had to outsource. As we begin to look for one too late, we found some problems that made us extend the development time a little more.
Also, we didn’t have the testing phase in our planning, after which we had to fix some bugs with which we didn’t count, what added more time we didn’t have to the development.
We thought we began the process with iOS with a reasonable amount of time, we didn’t know that the process was so long. First you must register, so you get the DUNS number, then you have to be accepted as a developer and in addition, each version you send must be accepted for publication. We thought that all these steps would go faster, but it has caused us a delay between the launch on iOS and Android
Due to the nature of our game (Steam’s sales) we decided not to do marketing and launch it around the same time as the sales. We don’t know if this will help or not the product, but we’ve learned the importance of marketing and you should start with it at least six months before the date of release.
– If it’s your first game do something small, something you can manage on your own or with your team. We all want to make a WOW, but only a few can.
– Design. No matter if in a GDD, in a bible, in a wiki or in a napkin. Write everything that your game will need in advance before writing a single line of code or draw a picture and stick to it.
-Planning. No matter how good you think you are or how much you know, time will always be lengthened a little more than you had thought. And that’s assuming you don’t have any setbacks with third parties.
– Finish your game. Even if you think you’ve reached an impasse or did not have enough forces, do so (remember Shia Labeouf!). Whether it’s a success or not you can learn something from it. If you think it doesn’t have enough quality to sell it, you can always upload it on free platforms like Gamejolt.