Where dinosaurs dare not venture.
How I ended up working on indie game
It is always hard to start doing something new, especially in a field you always thought to be good enough only as hobby. A year ago, I made a step in a new direction. Instead of pursuing a PhD and doing research on the Machine Learning and AI, I ended up working in a game studio.
From the point where I am now, I would say that perusing PhD degree would have been much simpler way to go. However, I was never the one to follow the lane when I see a forest trail nearby. It is known that launching tech startup is hard, very hard. That is true. What about launching indie game? Impossibru! So; why not to do this?
Let me tell you this: it’s not easy to develop a game -as production takes form 6 month to 5 years. This might be one of the reasons, not many people pass the hobby stage and embrace the path of full time game dev.
If you never try you’ll never know
Medium is a great place to share thoughts, opinions and write articles on entrepreneurship, design and personal growth. However, I noticed scarcity of materials in terms of game dev and game design. This is despite the fact that game dev. is huge (more than 146,000 people in US) are and large market— $99.6 billion(2016). One of the reasons might be that fact that game dev. is very conservative and devs are also very busy — working 60hr./week.
Note: when I mention game dev. I mean video game industry (not mobile or VR/AR)
Not all is black though as this industry has always fascinated me. It’s a combination of technology, art, narration and –most importantly- magic.
I joined Twisted Time Studios as networking developer and ended up being CTO and design lead. My responsibilities include brewing coffee daily, making game server to look like it is working, arguing with level designers about generating game levels through code only and protecting UX from art designers.
“It’s all about customer/player”, is it not?
What about game dev team
I come from B2B background. I have worked in different industries — software development, heavy equipment (agri. machinery), HVAC design firm, Space research institute and , naturally, tech. startups. However I have never worked in game studios before, expect on some freelancing and hobby projects.
Game industry is divided into several categories (based on size, budget etc.)— AAA, AA and indie. At Twisted Time Studios we are indie studio and I believe indie studios holds key to future of game industry. We are currently working on Extinction Archaic Genesis –a third person multiplayer shooter. Our team consists of 12 individuals and we have been working remotely.
The current state of the game industry is very controversial, with many scandals and just a handful of good games. It is hugely influenced by several large companies, most of which are AAA –including several large publishers, they produce and ship basically the same products every year for increased price. I find the analogy in oil and gas vs sustainable energy very interesting as the first one still makes large profits, but the other one is changing the world for better by making solid steps every year. Gaming needs its Tesla and sun batteries. Actually, CD Project Red, the creators of the Witcher series, might be just the hero we need right now.
Now it’s late October 2016 and we are still have a long way to go in publishing full version of our game, but isn’t it always about delivering the good quality product for your audience — gamers, making smth amazing — you always wanted to make. When the developer knows that his game is being played, talked about, receiving feedback —then hard labor is paid off.
Those who fail to adapt are prone to failure
I really hope the market will evolve and adopt successful tech startup trends — from both development and consumer perspectives. There are so many great resources for UI/UX Designers, Web Developers like — inVision, Intercom, CodePen, email newsletter, public speakers and many more. Modern industries evolve through communication, collaboration and looking forward.
Getting back to headline of this section. In most tech startups everyone is talking about importance of knowing and shaping product to suit users’ needs or serves as pain reliever. The situation is different with game development. I believe, we should focus on caring about both our team and our customers. One of my main tasks at EAG were establishing team workflow, doing UX design and building game production pipeline. Why is it important to have balance between team satisfaction and customers/players ? I would strongly suggest you to read this great article by Sarah Patterson, SalesForce.
Instead of conclusion
Has my perception of game dev. and industry changed after one year of work on EAG? I‘d be lying if I said that now I am enlighten by it and say that game dev. is the best industry to work at. In fact, I still have occasional urges to venture back to Product Design and AI fields.
Fun part is that I would still like to continue developing EAG and hope –just hope- that this industry will see better times. :)
And, hey, game devs always have good sense of humor….. don’t they ?