The self-proclaimed Designer
Hi, I'm Nick, a 20-something year old indie dev from Romania, responsible for the existence of Move or Die. In case you haven’t checked it out already, which you definitely should, it's a friendship-ruining party game where the rules change every 20 seconds and, as the title says, if you don't move... you die (only in the game though).
This is the part where you become completely captivated and go check out the game. If that’s not the case, you can continue reading this and eventually find out out that I had no idea what I was doing during most of the development process.
Flash games era
It all started years ago (literally) in my bedroom, while I was prototyping ideas for my next flash game. Yes, it was that long ago. However, back then it wasn't designed as a party game, it was a puzzle platformer called "Concerned Joe", that you can actually still play today. (please don’t).
The game gained some traction, as much as a flash game could, so I figured it deserved a proper "remake" with a new engine, new graphics, new levels and new everything. I started re-building the game from scratch with a handful of friends on a you-help-me-I-help-you basis, because I had no money to pay anyone. However... one fateful night we decided to add 3 more players to the format and see how it feels.
As it turns out, it felt pretty awesome, and so MOVE OR DIE was born.
Now, I don’t know if you happen to be a developer yourself, but creating a game is nothing like the falsely advertised dream. It’s playing the same broken prototype hundreds of times a day, all while trying to keep it from catching fire. As you may suspect, it all gets very tedious very fast and staying motivated becomes one of the biggest hurdles you have to overcome while making your own game.
The development swamp
The whole development process was basically me winging everything because not only was this my first “real” non-flash game, but it was also developed in an engine that wasn’t very popular (not compatible with PlayStation 4). So, yeah, some bad decisions were made, let’s not point fingers.
I lived with my parents to cut down on development costs, the last-stretch funds being actually borrowed from my dad. Programming was done by friends and I had to kindly ask people on forums to help me our with testing because it was too much for me to handle. I was already swamped by the art side of the game, as well as by handling design, marketing and even the sound effects.
Then came 4 LONG years of development during which I did a horrible job prioritizing tasks. We spent almost a whole year working on the level editor instead of on content, which, in hindsight, wasn’t a great decision.
It’s really frustrating to have your friends ask if they can try out your game and, after a year of development, all you can say is “No, but you can try this kick ass level editor” :D.
The game finally came out on PC and it did surprisingly well! Well enough to allow me to hire people FULL-TIME (including someone responsible for QA)!
I started coming up with more "game modes" ideas and quickly packed them into a short demo that I first asked my friends to play by bribing them with pizza. After that I started showcasing said demo at local events, sometimes by straight-up hijacking the nearest table with my setup. My efforts didn’t turn out to be in vain and soon enough I began taking Move or Die to international conventions, promoting it the best I could. Many friends were made in the process, including some that literally beat me at my own game, which was weird.
I promised to myself that I would never add micro-transactions to my game because I hate them, so what followed were 3 years of keeping the game updated with big thematic updates, completely free of charge. We ended up adding a lot of new game modes, characters, mutators and completely new mechanics to the game, as well as managing to convince some really awesome people to let us use their characters and ideas in-game. This is how we included the likes of Rick and Morty, Shovel Knight, VVVVVV, Super Hot and Heavy Bullets to Move or Die.
I also value the presentation of the updates a lot so I wanted to personally make a trailer for every update the game got. Below you can find a playlist with all the Move or Die update trailers. They total in 20+ minutes of run time combined, so I won’t blame you if you skim through them.
The weird and the awesome
We had our fair-share of “unusual” things happen during this update period: