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If you wonder what glued together three 15 YO teenagers for 5 years of game development, and how we turned evolution into revolution, Read this!

Sharing some of our story and experience of our 5 years of game developing together as an indie team.

Evolution Part 1- Must Have Will Power

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In the beginning we made a lousy work. Sure enough, we didn’t have any managing skills or game developing experience, and simple tasks like polishing animations, creating map creators  took us what then seemed to be like eternity. But we had strong will power and enormous drive, sufficient  to overcome all our failures and mishaps, and finally, it worked!          

In a way, our will power, our drive and determination, were our “beginner’s luck” to overcome our lack of knowledge, lack of experience, lack of tools, and almost any lack you can think of. So one can say, undoubtedly,  that willpower and determination made us turn lack into luck!       

Today we can make most things we did back then, fivefold better and faster with the tools, methods and knowledge we’ve managed to acquire. (Hopefully next year it’ll be sixfold better). 

 

Evolution Part 2 - Our first serious challenge - Groovy Gang

The first serious game we’ve made was GroovyGang, a shooting game with quite good shooting mechanics and a twist.  It was most impressive and we made a lot of progress, acquiring new skills such as scheduling, better programming and problem solving, as we had to solve challenging math problems, creating complex ai. Thanks to Groovy Gang we were able to possess much game developing experience and a lot of confidence, as well. Fortunately, in the end, we were able to deliver nearly everything we wished for.

Here’s a quick glance at the map editor of the game (a youtube video):

Groovy Gang was by far, the most challenging game developing adventure we had faced.

 

Evolution Part 3 - Learn from your Mistakes & don’t forget to Conclude.

Unfortunately, We abandoned Groovy Gang!  We underperformed Its scope!

💣 Mistake # 1: Inability to asses the scope of the project. 

💣 Mistake # 2: Lack of perspective due to short term planning.

💣 Mistake # 3: Lack of  decisiveness.

💣 Mistake # 4: Abandoning a project without finishing it.   

💣 Mistake # 5: insufficient research

 

💎 Precious Gems We Got from Groovy Gang 💎

💎 How to match the project’s scope to the working power of the team. Yes! - we make a team of 3, so one must adjust the work he chooses to the team’s ability.

💎 How to be productive by meeting deadlines, Making room and time for changes. Taking into consideration Surprises in the process. Acquiring decision making abilities.

💎 How to continuously improve the product by using up to date technologies. We used to work with dropbox, and had to upload each version, time and again. Then we ran into Git.  We replaced dropbox with Git and that has made huge difference. From now on our game had a touch of professionality. 

💎 How to exploit easing - The use of Easing simply makes the game look & feel like a million dollar. It certainly gives the game a boost  and people are really impressed with it. Easing is a precious Gem, and we intend to dedicate a separate, fully detailed post on easing. Watch for it in one of our future posts!

💎 How to use available resources and not having to “invent the wheel” from scratch. Don’t waste time to develop things that already exist. To save maps in our game for example, we invented our own format, which was very similar to an existing format: xml. We could simply use json which is built in in the engine we're working with. BTW, to this day, that's what we do to save maps and it works great.

 

Evolution Part 4 - Our 2nd Game: StairJump - Watch how Ugly Duckling turns into a beautiful White Swan

Following Groovy Gang, we saw Flappy Bird’s success and we thought we’d better try making  a small silly game ourselves.

 

The Ugly Duckling...

It all started when Rom made some squares that merely jump, and it seemed too lame at first. It took a while to get attached to such unappealing game, but finally, the two of us had sorted everything out.

 

...Turns into a Beautiful White Swan

First, in order to make it richer and more appealing - we added colors. It doesn’t sound like much, but, suddenly it got shape and unique look. We decided to add face, to give it some human features and make it less boring.

One day when Rom was on a journey with his class, I kept updating it, and sending him new versions I added coins and a shop, where you get new items as you progress, but the item is hidden until you reach it.  I added some funny characters that made Rom and his friends quite surprised.

 

Some Drawbacks in the process.

The process of making StairJump got much longer than we expected. It lasted  many months -  not a few weeks, as planned.       

As we were fascinated with it, we kept adding more and more features. We didn’t have a well defined scope -  we just kept making the game complicate & more interesting, adding replays, facebook, a shop, a server and a lot more..

 

But We Had Fun!

At last, We made it through this game,

Here’s a quick glance at the game’s shop:

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We’ll be back! - working on this game in the future.

We had some  Ludum Dares* in the way - a great opportunity to practice and acquire worthy tools that helped us a lot and naturally, we’ve planted  whatever new material we had put our hands on, in the forthcoming projects..       

* Ludum Dare - Create a game in 72 hours Game Jam

 

💎Gems💎

💎 Must Have a well defined project’s scope - One needs to limit himself to a  pre-planned scope and a tight working schedule. 

💎 Finding Ways to minimize work!  We’ve created the best practices and tools in the engine we were working with, to maintain the same level with much less work.

💎 Organization overrules Performance - We came to the inevitable conclusion that it’s more important in the beginning to do a well organized work, and only then to worry about performance.

💎 Adjustable Learning Curve - By reading game design articles and by following people who were playing our game, we arrived at the conclusion that the game should start in an easy & Simple way and only later should become more challenging and complicated, as the player is more familiar with the basic knowhow of the game, and the setting, and is getting used to the game rules. 

There must be a perfect balance between the player’s skill level in each phase and the level of difficulty of the game. Otherwise, the player might get bored or feel frustrated

 

Hooray!!! Evolution Turns into Revolution!!

We had no plans to stop working on StairJump

but then came Ludum Dare35 The Ludum Dare challenge made us create a new innovative game:  “Craft a Raft”.

We received very nice comments and we were proud with what we had achieved in 72 hours. The ratings were fine, but being honest, we were disappointed. We expected more!       

Craft a Raft is a complicated game to make in 72 hours. We didn’t have sufficient time to improve its playability, and that fact might have turned against us, a bit.

As in the game itself, where you happen to find yourself stuck in the middle of the ocean, and you must rescue yourself in a raft, the players themselves probably felt much identification with the hero, as there was no tutorial, or accumulative levels from easy to difficult.

Craft a Raft is not a self explanatory game. It was quite demanding to learn how to play, 

                                                                                                     

Craft a Raft - Our loved game

 

Here are some of the comments we got:


“The art is awesome and I loved the music. 
Great entry!”

 


“Wow, what a great concept for the theme. The art was super cute and the game played well, really impressive job! Love that there’s a level editor too.”

 


“Had a lot of fun with this one!”

As we realised the great potential of Craft a Raft, we made up our minds to work tirelessly on the game, continuing to develop and improve it and not to let ourselves down.. 

Since Ludum Dare, 2 months ago, we kept investing in Craft a Raft. 
Now it is much more advanced. At the moment we are trying to make it “easy to learn”, so even “non gamers” will catch up with it easily.

 

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As we work to improve it,  constantly, we show it to new people. We listen to them in order to improve their learning curve, and their game experience.

 

 

We intend to publish Craft a Raft shortly after making more design improvements, more levels, more objects, new challenges, naturally, and as mentioned above - upon reaching the level of desired simplicity in the game’s playability.

You are most welcome to leave us a comment, if you wish. We’ll read it and respond.

To hear more from us you can follow our twitter 

or our tumblr

and StairJump game site.

That’s all for now.

Thank you for being with us.

Sunfury Team

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