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Opinion: Launch day

In this reprinted #altdevblogaday opinion piece, Itzy Interactive's Kyle Kulyk shares the anxiety and other unexpected feelings independent developers can feel when it's finally time to launch.
[In this reprinted #altdevblogaday opinion piece, Itzy Interactive's Kyle Kulyk shares the anxiety and other unexpected feelings independent developers can feel when it's finally time to launch.] We launched our first game this week with zero fanfare. Sitting in my home office, the core three who make up Itzy Interactive looked up from our test tablets and phones after hours of testing and asked each other, "So that's it then? Are we ready for launch?" The room was warm after the long day of testing, and at some point the sun had gone down. I'd turned on two lamps, giving the room a drowsy glow. Our coffees were emptied or cool to the point they were forgotten, and I realized just how good a job my wife had done keeping our toddler occupied, as it had been at least a couple of hours since he'd last come into the room and demanded a Youtube Elmo marathon. After eight months of living Itzy3D's development we had come to that point. There was really nothing left to do. I suddenly felt terrified.
There was a certain comfort for me in checking my task list each morning, pulling the latest updates down from the server, and proceeding to move forward with the game development. It gave me a sense of purpose and confidence looking at that list. These were tasks I could handle, broken up into manageable, bite-sized chunks. Finishing the game – admitting that we were ready to put our product out there meant a whole new type of work as I shifted from programming and design to marketing. None of us had any prior experience working on game titles, and the learning curve was steeper than any of us had anticipated in the beginning, but we had each fallen into our own routines. Often, we'd speculate as to when the game would be ready for launch, and those deadlines would quietly pass by as if they never existed as what seemed like simple programming and design tasks revealed themselves to be much more complex, multi-headed beasts then they had appeared months prior. Then we somehow reached the end, and once again we found ourselves staring out over dark uncharted waters. The abyss stared back at us. "I feel like we should have a drink or something," Cole suggested somewhat quietly. It seemed like the thing to do, and I went to the kitchen and poured three glasses of flat champagne left over from a punch we served for Christmas dinner the week before. We clinked glasses, and I don't recall anything being said. I swiveled in my office chair and began uploading our build to the Android Marketplace. I remember the butterflies in my stomach as I hovered momentarily over the "Publish" button. Then I clicked, a rather unceremonious action, and that was that. We packed up our little Mac Mini, our tablets, our phones, finished our champagne, and called it a night. I remember, after everyone had gone home, sitting down with my wife after our son went down to bed and feeling the fluttering nervousness in my guts as my thoughts began to race. What if there was some catastrophic error we overlooked? What if phones start to spontaneously combust? What if no one likes it? After being laid off from a decade in the brokerage industry in 2009 and spending two years to retrain and switch careers, the stakes have never been higher for myself and my young family. Nothing's certain, and we've all sacrificed the last year for this project, but none of us were turning back now. How could we? After this long, we're committed. Or maybe should be committed? I'm proud of our accomplishment, but this isn't the launch I had envisioned. I didn't really have a picture in my mind of what it'd be like, but when I imagined the launch of our first title, the feelings I had expected to experience weren't the anxiety storm I felt then, or feel now. And so the marketing stage of Itzy3D begins. With zero budget it just comes down to us getting the word out anyway we can while attempting to entice reviewers to have a look. While we're doing that, work starts on our next title as do our plans for Itzy's continued long term support. Itzy3d is currently available for free on the Android Marketplace while the iPhone/iPad version sits in the App store, awaiting review. If you'd like, our first four levels are also available to try for free via our website. So this is indie game development… [This piece was reprinted from #AltDevBlogADay, a shared blog initiative started by @mike_acton devoted to giving game developers of all disciplines a place to motivate each other to write regularly about their personal game development passions.]

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