Path Of The Indie — Gathering The Party
We are launching a series of articles which will be conducted on behalf of Head of the Game Project Saturated Outer Space
My name is Nikita Proskurin, CEO and Co-founder of Rummy Games team, and within short stories I’d like to share:
- My experience and concerns about starting and developing a video game.
- My belief when creating and developing your game you definitely need a team of driven likeminded people with passion for video games and ready to work hard and learn hard. You might think that there would be plenty of rewards but the path is still not over yet. So we will talk about it later.
How this text might be useful? This is an honest story about the path of the indie team with some plot twists. So if you are indie yourself or do some thinking about joining the game dev industry or just wondering how people create fascinating worlds from scratch I believe this case is worth a look.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to tell you how to make video games but how I did experiments, what I learned from them, and my future approaches to management of an indie team while following the path.
A samurai has no goal only path!
It all began in late February 2019.
At that time I was eager to get into gamedev but with no luck. So I even wrote an article about my fruitless attempts and soon after I was introduced to the Director of educational program in Russia “Management of Game Projects” who assembled a “Rummy Games” team as a Mentor by the time of the first conference call. They invited me as well as I was looking for an internship in a game project.
Of course, some of you would say that it’s possible to start solo. I completely agree with them but when you have got experience in AAA-projects and looking for some fresh air. Or a genius-introvert. Or you found yourself locked in the basement for 4 years with enough food supply, laptop with up-to-date game engines, access to electricity and no internet to distract you. (Un)fortunately, not in my case.
My basic premise so far is that being with no team behind your back is like being trapped in your own fictional world with unstoppable crunches and 0% of fun. Let me show what I mean by my series of stories.
There were four of us from the start: Game designer, Narrative designer, Developer (plus technical design), Marketing Analyst (me). All of us had some sufficient background before but only Vlad was qualified to compile a working prototype which he had been making for the last 8 months in Blueprints of UE4 and had been looking for brothers in arm to proceed further.
Our Mentor guided us in creating the Steam page of the game and helped to set up first milestones at the very beginning.
The idea was to finish the game as soon as possible. First, to announce the game on Steam (in March 2019), and make up channels for promotion. Also, work hard after getting home from daytime jobs, force all decisions and prepare a playable build from the prototype in 6 months. Then, release in August 2019. As a result, get a sweet case in the portfolio for our CVs and move further. Everything is covered up.
According to our plan I started the competitors’ analysis and target audience research keeping in mind how the game should look on release. Rest began to write the plot, develop the mechanics and transform the prototype into the game.
After 3 conference calls it became clear for us that we needed to bring some order into our chaotic activity. So I took responsibilities of a Project Manager: arrange and hold call-meetings with agendas and follow-ups in Google docs, track team’s commitments and other common issues.
Google docs is not suitable for such purposes so we decided to move to Jira and Confluence. Apart from the task management we also had to organize documentation of the project. These also fell into my hands as I had experience with task trackers and managing teams with dozens of people. Even though my expertise comes from a completely different sphere, business philosophy is quite familiar and people are people. If you respect your colleagues, take care of your team and do your best then congratulations you are a decent PM.
As soon as we established our workflow we found a Sound designer who composed fabulous tracks for the game. He is a real catch, that’s for sure!
Unfortunately, due to some reasons unrelated to our project our Game designer left the project by that time. So the Narrative designer assumed responsibilities in Game design.
That is how the story started.
It covers the time from February to April 2019.
The moral of the story: it’s easier to start as a group if you choose the path of an indie-samurai. Gather into parties, cooperate with people who are on the same wave as you and have common views. Join existing teams, share your knowledge and bring new insights.
Part 2 — Our First Game Conference
Part 3 — Unfolding The Development
Part 4 — Recruitment
Part 5 — Our Second Game Conference
Part 6 — New Acquaintances
Part 7 — Rebuilding The Prototype
Part 8 — Work During Pandemic