Cloudop launch!

Cloudop – Post Analysis

So it’s finally released. Cloudop, a game that I’ve been working on for the last month, has been released on the Google Play mobile market. I’ve learnt a lot during the development, which has me excited to make my next game.

This is a post analysis/thoughts blog entry, that hopefully gives people an insight into my personal development process over the time I spent making Cloudop.

It began with an idea…

As with every creative works, you have to have an idea to pursue in order to create what you envision you want the end result to be like. With Cloudop, I learnt to not look at how the game will be presented at the end, but more so how it will play. That’s where prototyping is important.

Art, music, sounds, UI (user interface) can come later. I learnt not to spend all my time at the beginning creating the assets, as they’re subject to change throughout development. And there’s no point having a fantastic looking game if it plays like rubbish and isn’t fun.

Cloudop started as a square for the player and a bunch of rectangles for the clouds. I had a couple of friends test these early prototypes on PC, using the mouse to click and release for jumping. During this first week of prototyping, I tweaked a lot with how the player would be affected by gravity and surface friction, as well as his movement/jump speed and how far you’d have to drag the mouse.

It’s a very simple concept, so this prototyping stage didn’t take long, but it’s an important part of developing on that idea of yours that I mentioned earlier. If it plays how you want it to, then you’ve successfully fulfilled the idea you had to begin with. If not, then you won’t ever be happy with the outcome of what you’ve created and it will make the development process tedious.

Don’t procrastinate!

This applies to everything, not just gamedev. If you think you want to do something, create something, change something, don’t hesitate to do so because maybe it will be a challenge or maybe it won’t quite work the way you hoped for. Dive in head first - you’ll either sink or swim; if you sink, you’ve learnt from it, if you swim, you’ve succeeded.

Because I’m very new to gamedev, there were times where I’d procrastinate in trying something that I had never done because I either thought I couldn’t do it or that it’s take too much effort (particularly for a free game that I have no idea how many people would be interested in playing). I’d end up diving in anyway.

What I learnt from this is that I’d often realize how simple that thing really was and question why I put if off in the first place. And from this I learnt a lot more about the different aspects of development than I otherwise would.

It’s a win-win situation. Don’t give up on something you think is too hard or not worth trying. If you’re absolutely certain you CAN’T do it, just put it to the side, but ALWAYS come back to it. Very rarely will you NOT be able accomplish something, and if it comes to that, then at least you tried and you’ve learnt from it.

Don’t underestimate the workload

Gamedev (and I’d imagine any creative work you want to pursue) takes a lot of time and energy. I only spent a month of my time on Cloudop, but look how simple the game is. Obviously as you get more proficient at what you do, this time decreases, but it still takes a lot more than you initially think.

The programming for Cloudop was actually the quickest part of the development. Art, animation, music, sounds… All of those assets, while extremely simple, just took time. They didn’t necessarily require the amount of thought that programming did, but they ate into my time immensely.

Then I had the basic marketing: a website, promotional material for the Google Store page, icons of different sizes for the final game.

None of this stuff had me stumped, but it definitely took a lot of time and work.

What I’m saying is; don’t feel like you’re moving too slowly or you haven’t achieved much in X amount of time, because you’ll look back at the end and realize how much you’ve actually accomplished. And don’t underestimate how much work goes into something based on how it looks at the end. Even something as simple as Cloudop still requires work, and it’s a lot for one single person (that’s why AAA development teams have hundreds of people and take years of full-time work to finish projects – it takes time)!

Final thoughts

I didn’t want to drag this out for longer than it needed to be, so will end here and answer any questions in the comments.

Cloudop took about one month of solid work to complete.

  • One week was spent prototyping and tweaking and testing with mates
  • One week was spent creating art assets and animating
  • One week was spent doing music/sound and implementing
  • One week was marketing (website) and publishing to Google Play w/beta testing

These are rough timeframes and weren’t in consecutive order (I did a couple of days art, then programming, then sounds, then art, etc). Actually, it’s important to note that; particularly as a one man indie team (I use the term ‘team’ loosely), you NEED to jump between tasks to keep motivated. Gamedev is a creative outlet, and a lot of creative people will get bored seeing no results (programming may not appeal to your creative side). Jumping between different aspects of development will keep it fresh.

And finally, for other aspiring gamedevs, forget about sleep! You will ALWAYS be thinking about developing your game. Even if you set a good amount of time for sleeping, you’ll find your brain working in overdrive every second of everyday: ‘How do I fix this bug?’, ‘What if I make this look more like that?’, ‘Should I make it easier?’, ‘How do people like it?’… I found myself often waking up when a solution for something would just pop into my head, only to try what I thought would work and find that it didn’t. This is just how I found my mind to operate during the entire month of development, so try and have some breaks away for a day or two where you can!

I hope this gives you some insight into a few important things I learnt during the development of my first released game! Please ask me anything – I’m always happy to try and help!