The following article is part of an ongoing Indie segment called Indie Dev Diaires.
Every other week we approach a select group of game developers and people in the video games industry to write about a day in their life as a dev.
This segment follows both small and large individuals / studios to give you a behind the scenes view of how different game developers go about their day.
The below diary extract is an unedited excerpt written by Indie dev husband and wife duo Backward Pies:
We are Backward pieS, a husband-and-wife indie game developer located near Philadelphia in the U.S.
We recently made a creative game about building enchanted trees called “Let There Be Life” which is available for mobile devices (iOS and Android), as well as being on Steam. Our current project is “Dukes and Dirigibles,” a top-down 2D Steampunk flying shooter that began its life as a Flash game, but is being totally revamped for a Steam release.
We are at a very interesting time in the development of Dukes and Dirigibles:
At the end of writing this, we’ll be presenting Dukes at the Too Many Games convention. We are simultaneously putting together a Kickstarter to fund the remainder of the work needed to release Dukes.
While these two goals have some overlap, there are some significant differences in what they require
A game demo ideally exhibits a “vertical slice” of the game – a compact but polished experience that gives players a feel for what the game is all about. The Kickstarter, on the other hand, needs a variety of video/screenshots that demonstrate short snippets taken from the entirety of the game.
Aside from preparing the game itself for the show, the other major task is preparing our booth.
We recently got our company logo printed on a 2’x5’ banner and plan to hang that across the front of our table. We’ll also be bringing ‘swag’ to give away in order to entice people to try the game. Freebies are always a guessing game, and what draws attention at one event might not work so well at another.
For this event, we have three tiers of items to hand out:
- Free bead necklaces for anyone who wants to take one.
- Little flying disks labeled “I Played Dukes and Dirigibles” for those who try the game.
- 6” plane gliders given out to players who win a multiplayer round with their friends.
Hopefully we won’t get in trouble because people are chucking their disks and gliders around inside the convention center!
At the beginning of this month we had considered Dukes “almost ready” to be shown/played at a convention…
…that is, until we actually sat down and made an itemized list of everything the game needed added/updated by the end of the month.
The tasks filled about a page and a half of notebook paper, which made us pretty worried.
We’ll let you in on a little secret:
We are NOT going to be able to implement all these ideas.
It’s painful, but that’s the reality. So our job really is to decide what can be dropped while still making the demo feel complete and entirely what we want to present.
What we care most about with the game are the mechanics that need to be tested by real people, things like power ups and player controls. Most of that is coming together, and we are working on getting the power ups in there right now.
So far the hardest part about the power ups hasn’t been what they do, it’s been integrating them with the player’s HUD, which shows which weapon is active what the ammo counts are.
Non stop craziness
More craziness going on right now is getting a free-to-play (ad supported) version of our previous game “Let There Be Life” onto the iOS App Store in time for the TooManyGames convention.
People tend to balk when you tell them your app has a price tag (I think they feel you’re asking them to commit to buying it after playing it for a bit), so this way they have the option of still getting the game without deciding on the spot if they want to pay for it.
At the time of this writing, the app is now live and anyone can check the game out for free!
Post-convention diary follow up.
It’s now three days after the TooManyGames and we are settling back into our normal routine. Things went well at the show and we had a fairly steady stream of visitors across the whole weekend.
The multiplayer balancing in Dukes worked far better than we could have hoped (considering the game had never been put in front of the public before). It was always fun to watch that moment when players realize that, despite the game’s fast pace, strategy could be as important as aim.
More than once did players suggest that Dukes reminded them of a modern version of the Atari 2600 classic “Combat,” a comparison we’ll gladly take.
Concerning our freebies…
The flying disks were popular, and since they had the game’s name printed on them (marketing!), we decided to let any visitor have one whether they played the game or not.
Giving gliders to winners of multiplayer matches turned out to not quite be practical, for a couple reasons:
- First, many times a lone attendee would come up and play against one of us developers.
- Second, there were times two kids would come up, and who has the heart to give only one kid a glider?
So we handed out gliders to anyone who played and wanted one, which was primarily the younger crowd.
All told, the convention was a fun (if tiring) weekend that gave us a chance to spend time with people who enjoyed our games, and meet some new friends amongst all the other indie developers showing their games.
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