很多人在看了本文的标题后可能会觉得我错了或疯了，但我认为事实的确如此：游戏开发的最后一部分便是最困难的一部分。让我解释给你听：一年前我自己的工作室Soloweb Studios与Raven Eyes Studios决定合作开发一款全新的横向卷轴益智平台游戏，并将其命名为《Aero’s Quest》。因为我们认为自己是“专家”，所以我们会详细计划所有内容：包括原型，角色特性，代码，美术设计，通过社交网站发行的预告片，自我推广，Steam的greenlight等等。
The final days of development could be the hardest ones!
by ivano cheers
The majority of the people that are reading the title of this post may think I’m wrong or crazy but I believe this is a real fact: the latest part of the development of a game can be the hardest of all. Let me explain: as you may or may not know about one year ago my own studio (Soloweb Studios), in cooperation with Raven Eyes Studios, decided to jump into the development of a new side scroller puzzle platformer game that has been later named Aero’s Quest. Because we call ourselves “pros” we planned everything in details: from the prototype to the characterization of the characters, from the coding to the art design, from the announcement trailer to the pre-release trailer passing by the social networks, self-promotion, steam greenlight and such.
We assigned to everything a precise date and to each date was corresponding a precise milestone.
Surprisingly we kind of hit all the milestones at the right time, from the easy ones to the hard ones (such as getting greenlit on Steam in less than a month, you may read a blog post of mine on Gamasutra regarding this topic, or present the game at Pax South 2015). We should manage also to hit the planned release date which will be this spring (soon the official release day).
Like every video game in production (especially for an indie game where only few people are part of the team) the development has been a bit of a roller coaster, yet everything went quite smoothly.
What is the problem about the very last month then?
Well, let’s start to say that problem is the wrong word, but definitely the last month or two of development are very different from the day by day work.
First of all at this point you suppose that the game core, the majority of the scripts, all the art and the graphics, music and stuff like this are done: ok, let’s “suppose” that. Now you have to deal with two main works to do: you need to finish your game up with all the levels done and, the mostly boring one, you have to complete your game intended as a “package”, meaning you have to take care about presentation, final sequences, eventual cut scenes, menus, options, UI and (like in our case) plenty of available languages.
In the case of Aero’s Quest we have 101 levels each of one needs to be designed with puzzles and perfect timing, each of one have three achievements to unlock and everything need to be saved in a database to be retrieved in another gaming session. Plus, under the suggestion of our promoters, we decided to add in the menu as many options as we could fit it (from the simplest control choice to the different ratio and resolution passing by a “quality” option in order to make run the game also on older computers.) so we could “make happy” all kinds of gamers. Put this all together in six different languages and you understand why so many companies has a special department only to develop UIs and menus.
Let’s not forget then that the last two months of the development of a game are also the two months where your future game is promoted the most: with the marketing running in high gears (luckily we hired a very good promoter/PR agency to cover that part) you need to take care about promotion, podcasts, streaming and eventually interviews while you have to keep everything running, finishing the game, keeping up to date your dev blog, your social connections and stuff. Not to mention the feedback from the play testers, the results of the mock reviews: you have to come back and fix, tweak, polish something that you were thinking already was cemented and done, crossed off. Plus there is the bureaucracy, paper-work, preparing the steam store page …
How do I deal with it?
There is not a lot to say about this: if you want to develop and publish a game you must know that this is part of the development (a very important part since it is in the end the way the game is presented to the audience ) so really don’t under-estimate it: needs a lot of time and often a lot of this time is spent away from the comfort zone we use to work into.
In my specific case I’m quite lucky: I live and work from a caribbean island (by the way check out the article of PC Gamer about my office in the Caribbean) where A) The clime and the atmosphere is fantastic so it’s easy to calm down in stressful moments B) We are the only indie studio of the Caribbean so when I take a break I won’t meet plenty of people doing the same job of mine asking questions and making me think about work and issues.
More over with Travis, the artist of Aero’s Quest, we have a great working relationship (despite the fact that he lives in Michigan in a much colder area than mine) and we often overcome problems and issues together thanks to a bond that works well for us and for the game.
Many indie developers dedicate all their resources to develop a fantastic core game and eventually a engine but then at the moment to polish it, to make it commerciable they tend to fail because the tank at that point is empty while the final stage of the development is craving for fuel. Or even worse they finish their game but they have no time or they are too late to promote it: what’s the point to own a fancy car just to leave it in the garage?
The only thing that I want to repeat once again is never under estimate the last stage of the development of a game: whether is called promotion, polishing, testing or all of them they are necessary and they take time (a lot).
Aero’s Quest will manage to be released on time (even if we didn’t plan so many difficulties at this stage) thanks to our drive and necessity to publish the game, thanks to the fact that we outsource a quite big part of the promotion, thanks to the fact that we easily overcome anger and frustration (something that every indie developer should learn first) and thanks to the people that are supporting us every day via twitter, steam and social networks, yet, for the next project, we will plan this part in order to give us more time and to avoid any final rush.（source：Gamasutra）