"The Renaissance" or "Why We Sucked?"

A short summary of our indie activity answering to the question: where and why have we failed?

We're back!

Back at the drawing board that is, getting ready for our new, fresh (third) start of Vogelfänger in the gaming industry. Despite the fact that we're quite new here (something that you could call an "organized game development" started for us around 9 months ago), it was a hell of an educational roller coaster ride and I thought that this might be a good moment to briefly summarize our, not so long, activity and to tell where and why we have failed.

The Classical Era, when everything started.

When the three of us, a programmer, a designer and a composer started to look for an artist to make our first game, "One Job" was supposed to be a quite simple platformer. Maybe not small, but also not with a huge scope - something that would suit our inexperienced, but ambitious bunch. But boy, we were lucky to find incredibly talented artists that were willing to join us, and the term "simplicity" was flushed down the drains and forgotten. We quickly fell in love with the every aspect of the game, and when we realized how beautiful it could be, we decided to stop working on it. To wait until we will have resources to make it the way we want to, and not need to as a beginning, small indie studio. You may say that we could just make the scope smaller or whatever, but we didn't want to. We started making games to make our dreams come true, and to make "One Job" the way we saw it was one of those dreams. 

A mock up screen for "One Job". At least we were sane enough to realize, that a 2D sidescrolling brawler-platformer with RPG elements and a hand drawn animation is a little bit too much for us at the moment.

We started working on a new project, but Indies vs Gamers game jam on Gamejolt came along, so we took a shot. Given the fact that "Steampunk Ninja vs Robo Commando Pirates In Space: Arcade" was our first finished game ever, and it was entirely made in 3 days, we saw the participation itself as a big success. But that was also the end of one era.

The Middle Ages, when everything collapsed.

Long hours of daily work for few months straight and the summer heat drove us crazy. We were literally started to lose our minds, and the fact that our savings were melting didn't help either. Our frustration was rising and we were fighting and arguing over the dumbest reasons. The group was about to fall apart but we decided to give ourselves a "final push": polish the game we have submitted for the game jam, post it to Steam's Greenlight and see what will happen. We felt terrible for our artists. That we dragged them in for nothing so far, and yet again we were switching projects. Feeling guilty, we decided to minimize their work until we will have enough money to pay them as much as they deserve. Long story short, that's when "The Great Shame" was created (FYI. that's not the game's real title, just something we call it).

"The Great Shame" lives up to its name. You'll find the real game if you Google around a bit, but don't say I didn't warn you!

Overall, the game did quite well over there (by the time I'm writing this, the game's "Yes" votes are 30% of all), but we were so ashamed of what we've made, that we didn't even want to make any marketing for this game or to show it to anyone. Even our families didn't see it.

So why did we suck?

It's pretty obvious now and I'm not making any big discovery here, but it was all in our attitude.

The biggest difference between our work on "One Job" and "The Great Shame" is that we wanted to make the former, and needed to make the latter. We've made mistakes in estimating our savings and decided to rush the development. Furthermore, pushing our minds to the limits with a poor diet, physical inactivity and long working hours resulted in a lots of poor decisions and hatred towards the game itself. Feeling the pressure we were working even longer, but our efficiency dropped down extremely and this resulted in feeling frustrated even more. Tragedy!

When we worked on "One Job" we were full of energy and new ideas. We wanted to make everything beautiful and caress every line of the code. We kept coming up with new jokes and secrets to hide in the game for the players to discover. When we encountered any difficulties, we were grateful that we can learn something new. Working was purely fun and it was the beginning of something great. And then we have ruined it. 

This brings me to a conclusion, that indie games can be something like a personal love letter. They don't need good graphics, good music or big names to reach an audience so wide it makes "yo mamma" jealous. They are simply fun to play when you can see that the developers had fun creating it. You cannot force yourself into making something interesting, neither you can do it when you hate what you do. Then it's like a hate letter you expect people to enjoy.

It was said many times already, but taking rests and keeping your mind fresh is crucial if you want to make your game interesting, fun, and to stand out of the crowd. 

Does that mean that our next game will be great and awesome and everything? I don't know. But it will surely be a labor of love. And thus begins our Renaissance.



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