The headline may seem a little contradicting. The question naturally is: "How can you gain speed and quality on a project by working on someting completely different?"
Here is what we tried and how it went:
First a quick introduction:
We went in to production on our current project in late july and have plans to release it in february 2012. It is a mobile game aimed at iOS.
When we worked on our first project, we felt towards the end that "we just wanted it over with" This may sound strange, because if you just want it over with, why work in games? But
the problem was not the lack of love for the work.
We had simply worked on it non stop for about 9 month and had been polishing day and night towards the end.
We concluded after that, that we needed to plan some break offs in the production of our next game, so that we wouldn't start to hate a project that we initially loved.
What we did:
We decided to do it by holding an in-house Gamejam, where we would try to produce a quick game in a weekend. We decided on the topic "Games for Kids" and met up a saturday morning in my apartment.
We brainstormed and landed on making a memory game with a single and multiplayer game mode.
We worked for 2 days straight ( like you do at gamejams :) ) and ended up with a game that was playable and actually fun to play :) Although the polish level was not good enough for the appstore yet.
We decided to give it another 2-3 days of work during the next week and polish it and make it ready for release.
Did it help?:
Now we can see this was a great decision for us! It may seem like much to take out 5 days of production time from you main project, but on the other hand, what is 5 days really?
It was really fun to take our mind completely of the main project, and think of something completely different in terms of gameplay and design.
And you should never underestimate getting a product released. The memory game was our second released game and it really boosted the morale and productivity of our team.
Since release of the memory game we have been working at the greatest speed so far and everyone is more excited than ever about the new project.
We really can't recommend this enough, make a small game and get it out there, even if you are working on something else at the moment, and even if it is not your first project!
We released the game as a completely free game with no in app purchases and no commercials.
The only moneteizing thing in the game was a link called "more games" which lead to our first game, a 0.99$ iphone game.
So far 24.000 people have downloaded our memory game and 1% of that has also bought our first game for 0.99$
We consider this a very good number! For a game we didn't expect to make any money, we are suddenly seeing an increase in sales on our paid title.
This game was released in Denmark only, but imaging if you did this your self and released it worldwide, the potential is there for you! :)
We just released an update for the game and are now trying out ads in the game. Only one ad pops up at the beginning of the game and nothing else.
So far we are seeing about a 15% click rate, which is through the roof! :) Its fairly new though and if there is any interest to it, I will gladly update the blog with numbers as they roll in.
Thank you for reading along
About the Author: Peter is the co-founder of the indie studio Pixeleap. He is working in all his freetime, and goes to school studying programming in the daytime. So far Pixeleap has released Up To The Top for iOS , Vendespillet and is now working on the next project.
He also blogs about this project over at Pixeleap.com