WRITTEN BY: ALEX GOLEBIOWSKI
Are you a game developer or looking to become one? Over the years I have been designing games, I have learned a lot about the whole game design and development process. On July 16, 2019, my studio PixelNAUTS released LOST ORBIT: Terminal Velocity on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.
In 2011, Chris Iacobucci and I founded PixelNAUTS games, an independent games developer. PixelNAUTS quickly established itself as a game development studio, providing art development services for other companies, and working on original content in-house. Since inception, it has contributed to a variety of high-end productions across a broad range of platforms working with companies such as Autodesk, Ubisoft and Compulsion Games.
In this article I will share my thoughts on what it takes to design a great game and lessons learned from the development of LOST ORBIT: Terminal Velocity.
Build a great team
A game idea is only as good as the team making it! Game development is a long and unique process. No amount of planning and experience can guarantee a game will turn out great, but a great team can collaborate on an idea and find a way to make it an excellent game and a great product. Building a team is hard. Don’t just look for technical skills; look for personalities that match your current team, ideals and production methods. A team that can talk out ideas, solve problems and collaborate can turn any idea into something unique and amazing!
Find like-minded people and stick together!
Any team will have strengths and weaknesses. Unless you have the budget to bring in experts from every aspect of game development, you will have weak spots. Make sure you are realistic about your limitations and work with them. Limitations force a team to be creative and working around them can lead to surprise results. Understand your team and find a project that suits your specific skills. There are a wide variety of games these days. There are games that focus solely on art, storytelling, music or gameplay. Every project doesn’t need to perfect each aspect; sometimes it’s better to do less but do it well!
Always be marketing
Marketing seems to be overlooked by many smaller developers. Just making a great game isn’t enough to ensure success these days. Each day more people are joining the industry and currently there are over 25 new games each day. It’s getting harder and harder to stand out. When you’re about to start on a project, do yourself a favour and develop a marketing plan. Research the market to see if people want the type of game you’re about to make. Find out what successful games in your market have to offer and what they are lacking. Then as soon as you start development, start thinking about release.
Make some decisions: do you try to find an established publisher to help you market the game? Do you hire your own marketing company? Or do you go solo and spend your entire production time posting updates and trying to build your own following and community? There are no right or wrong answers, just decisions that need to be made. Do your research and most importantly, be realistic with how much time and money you should be spending on marketing.
In the end, game development is a wonderful art form and an extremely large industry. Anyone can make games these days and there is always a potential to turn it into a profitable business. Like the film and music industry, it’s not easy to succeed, but in the end anything worth doing is hard.
Alex Golebiowski is co-founder and COO of PixelNAUTS Inc., a Niagara-based independent games developer. Connect with PixelNAUTS on social!
This article originally appeared in Business Link Niagara.