Developer of many fine games.
Thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences to building and releasing Battletank, my arcade combat game featuring local multiplayer for up to four players.
It's perhaps a bit early to be writing a post-mortem. The game hasn't been out long, and the Greenlight campaign is only a week old (last check it was just over 30% of the way to the top 100, but tapering off) Sales thru my website have been near zero so far. I'm still waiting to get on Desura.
BUT I don't want this to be negative! So let's start with what I feel went right:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Finished a game - although there will still be updates, I got a game done and to market. It may never sell thousands or even hundreds of copies, but I got something done!
Feedback - people that have played the game have enjoyed it, i've always gotten good constructive feedback. I remember a few cases, where simple suggestions yielded massive improvements. One was a friend suggesting I speed things up a bit - and that same day with a few tweaks it was a new game, much more fun!
Prototyping - after the massive money sink that was Steel Archers I'd learned a valuable lesson in nailing gameplay early and having a goal. So I started prototyping, finished one short game which was very silly, but let me at least finish a game. After a few other little prototypes I started with what would be Battletank. In three days I was playing it multiplayer and getting decent feedback. It was already fun to play. I did get sidetracked a bit with unit placement and other non-core features, but was able to pull back and focus on just making a fun multiplayer game.
Using the Asset Store - what traction I did get was helped a lot by having decent graphics. I didn't make anything in this game, other than I think parachutes, and maybe the icons for powerups (and later on a few of the particle effects) Everything else came off the Unity Asset Store for a few hundred dollars in total. The first two days had programmer art, but by the third or forth day I had this. Nothing out of this world, but also not too bad looking IMO. Actually within a month I had a publisher interested (even though it didn't ultimately pan out)
Learning - This should happen with any game, but I did push a bit with Battletank. From an XML option file, to Bot AI, to UI stuff I definitely advanced my knowledge while making this game!
Networking - this isn't really just part of this game, but plugging in to the development community is very important - for support, for exposure etc.
Task Lists - when I was actually properly using them, to do lists, and goals really help keep development going and smooth over days when I otherwise wouldn't know what to do...you know those reddit surfing days when you just sort of procrastinate everything. Completing even small tasks, like "rescale the turret", can lead to getting a whole lot more done.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Market - There is just not a big market for local multiplayer on a PC. People don't have mutliple controllers (if any). I wasn't completely ignorant of this fact, but I think I just hoped I'd be able to tap into some small undiscovered market. While people appreciate the option, on its own it's probably not enough! PC expects online at least, and single player. I did add bots, but still need proper single player options.
Timing - I released on New Years basically. That was sort of the deadline i'd given myself back in October. Actually was hoping to have it out earlier, but family trips, Christmas, ice storms, sicknesses all just dragged things out a lot farther then I had originally planned.
Feature Creep - despite the tight scope of the game, I had at one point, branched out into Tower Defense or RTS lite elements burning a few weeks before I even realized what I was doing. I'd love to add these features back in, but should've been focusing on the core game! I swore I knew better this time, but the idea of "just adding" one more thing is always so seductive.
Poor planning - I never really got to forming a proper, hard plan - getting PR and marketing stuff done, deciding where I'd put it and how.
Networking - wait what? One mistake I find myself making again and again is spending too much time showing my game to developers. Why? Developers can offer good input, but they are offering input as a fellow developer, not as a potential customer. They aren't going to buy your game, and even if they do, there's not enough of them (probably)! I still need to figure this one out - how to get my games out there to paying customers!
Not sure where I'm going from here. I can start a new project, or try and add on to Battletank. I also might try and get Battletank out in other platforms. I think whatever I do next, I'll be trying my best to make something that I can sell to people.
Since this is a pre-post mortem the store isn't over yet for Battletank. I just need to choose my path carefully from here!
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