About two months ago, our environmental artist “left the building”. While Edoiki was coming along nicely, the fact that there wouldn’t be anybody to do stuff for the levels was bit of a problem. Getting a new (and the right) person with a minimal budget to do the wanted environment turned out to be very time consuming. Too time consuming. I was waking up realizing that the plans I had for the game simply weren’t in my budget. Due several reasons – resources being major one – I have made the tough (but right I believe) decision to end the Edoiki project development.
This article will go into reasons behind the rationale, and also detail some extremely important lessons I learned from the project.
Ensure that you have enough resources – big enough budget for your game
The game’s eastern theme brought some mystery (at least for us western people) in the game, and some of the models that were made for the game were simply amazing. Unfortunately when our talented environmental artist left the building, it was like a punch in the face. I didn’t see it coming (although I’m glad that the artist said about his situation, so at least I heard it as soon as it was happening). Replacing a key person can be a tough job.
I honestly didn’t know that it would come a day when I truly emphasize the meaning of handling risks. I’ve been the kind of person who thinks that “most risks can be sorted out as they happen”, and “prepare only for the biggest risks” (if any) in indie game production.
In retrospect, the fact that I was relying on one artist to do the environment was a huge risk (since I had minimal budget, and was offering royalties for work done). For the new project (more about that in the future blog posts) I will minimize this risk by choosing a theme to which there are art content packs available. I will put some dollars into getting the game characters done, but will rely at least 90% (most likely closer to 99%…) for content packs for the levels.
With a bigger budget, it wouldn’t be such of a problem to hire somebody to do all the level stuff – but for indie game budget I believe this type of decision is fine. This means I don’t rely on people (and worry if their plans change), since frankly – I don’t have budget to ensure that the people stay on the team. Naturally there’s more involved than money, but for a long non-paying project it can be an issue.
That gets me to the next reason behind the decision.
Too long production time (ahead)
The whole team spent many, many hours to develop the game. Some came, talked, and left. Some helped out, contributed, and left. Some spent less hours, some spent more hours. I have talked with all the team members about the situation and I’m glad that we all are still friends, and people understood this decision. I appreciate the effort that Ben, Michael and Jean-Marc have put to the game, but now I want to say what I’ve done.
I have spent close to 2 years (part time) to develop the game, and I have poured lots of hours into planning, testing, designing, learning – you name it. I have learned enormously – and gave some of those lessons here on the Blog and in the articles for Insiders. The problem is not “how much I have spent”.
I repeat: it doesn’t matter anything how long you spent on the game. What matters is where you are now and what’s ahead. I see that getting another artist to do the environment would take too long: finding the right person, getting familiar with the content pipeline and ensuring that he stays in the team would simply take too long (I took several months to find the artist in the first place, and same happened with the animator).
I was planning to cut features and publish at least a demo of the game, but even that would require at least some weeks of time – and wouldn’t really serve me or the audience.
The eastern theme and features I’m after would simply take too much time – and I don’t have the budget to ensure that it will be done.
By the way, see also this blog entry: Why some games take 21 hours to produce and others 21 months.
No object-oriented programming
Lack of object-oriented programming wasn’t the main reason behind closing the project, but for me it’s one reason why I won’t be spending the rest of the year working on Edoiki game any more. Blitz3D – a great tool I’ve used for half a decade or so – doesn’t support object-oriented programming, and the fact that I want to “advance to the next level” and start using OO made me find another engine. (More on that in tomorrow’s blog entry).
It does a world good to me to learn object-oriented programming, and that’s what happens with the next project.
The Edoiki project has now officially come to its end. It wasn’t finished, but it was still a successful project for me. Within the two last years I’ve met more developers than ever, learned more than ever – and that’s something very valuable.