Welcome to Part 2! Let’s get started…
2nd Game Attempt – Tower of Infinum
As you are aware from my first post, my 1st game attempt is a visual novel based on a literary novel (which I’ve been working on more recently). The plan was, while I would work on the literary novel, we could develop another mobile game in the mean time! In my mind, we would create a simple puzzle-platform game which requires little depth in terms of combat and other gameplay mechanics. Basically the structure worked like this:
- There is only 1 player character.
- You play as the Hero who explores a tower to save his girlfriend who is left for dead at the top of it.
- Each level of the game consists of a large room. Within that room consists of traps, small puzzles and various creatures.
- The Hero must traverse from one level to the next in order to eventually reach the top of the tower.
- Along the way, the hero acquires increasingly stronger weapons to deal with the increasingly stronger creatures that inhabit the tower.
- Also, there are mini-bosses as well as main bosses to deal with which requires some strategy to effectively resolve.
- This would be released in an episodic-style structure. Meaning that the public would play 10 levels, then wait until we release 10 more levels which advance the story.
This was another game led by me and this time around, I attempted to coordinate it’s development with as little work as possible. This meant restricting the number of playable characters, depth of the story and gameplay mechanics. I wanted our first release to be easy to develop in theory. The team that was working on this is the same team attached to the visual novel, but with a few more people. The list is as follows:
- 1 artist for the environmental assets, characters and creatures.
- 1 level designer to design the various puzzles, traps and so on.
- 1 animator to implement the assets created by the artist.
- 1 programmer to implement everything created and designed by us.
Well guess what? Because of my limited experience, the development of the game was rather slow. Also, because we were doing this of our own free time, we didn’t have much free time to focus on the game. There were also conflicts with jobs, school work and other personal issues which affected the progress of the game. Over a year long period, I managed my team by coordinating tasks, filling holes within the game document and determining what is needed to effectively complete our first episode. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough…
Initially, development was progressing smoothly as team members completed their tasks on a weekly basis, but over time it would take longer to complete a task. This meant that others need those tasks to be completed before they could get started on their respective roles. Combine this with on-going school duties, jobs and personal issues and you can guess where this post is going…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not entirely putting the blame on my team. I am giving myself 80% – 90% of the blame. In my honest opinion, I would say that the rest of the blame is due to laziness of the team, including myself. There were times when I would cancel a meeting because I didn’t feel good or wasn’t in the mood to schedule a meeting for the following date. Also, this led to members having to leave the team for various reasons which placed a hold on critical points of development because the members had other priorities. This led towards the game eventually being placed on hiatus. If you’re wondering what the current status is, I’m embarrassed to say that it is still on hiatus.
I often reflect on why it couldn’t be completed. If I were to be stubborn about it, I’d primarily base it on myself in regards to my leadership, project management and little development experience overall. If I were to be realistic about it, I would say that laziness is the primary cause for the game’s hiatus.
From my end, I have prepared everything I could to make the first episode as easy to develop as possible. I still think it is revised enough so it can be completed by a small team, possibly even just 3 key people. On my team’s end, to be honest, I would say that laziness is the reason why they eventually stopped working on the game. I partly blame this on myself because I believe a leader should know how to redirect laziness into productivity. I like all of the members that I’ve worked with and would continue to work with them, it’s just that I settled with the opinion that you can’t force someone to do anything, they have to have the ethics to see it through on their own. At first, I would contact these members everyday reminding them of their task and following up with previous tasks. After many instances of not receiving a reply from their end, I came to the realization that the game was not going to be completed, if at all.
Maybe I’m too nice? I should be telling them to stop being lazy, but because I’m not paying them, I feel like I’m restricted in what I can or can’t say. Maybe because I see them as friends, I don’t want to cause any type of issues that would ruin our friendship? I’m at a loss as to what I can do to get them to work. Maybe it’s not even me? Maybe they simply don’t have an interest to develop it anymore? Maybe they like their current life style and enjoy things as they are now? I for one don’t, I’m actively trying to develop my company and various other projects in the hopes that I can make a worthwhile living out of it (although, it feels like it’s progressing at a snail’s pace)
I don’t know the primary reason so I tend to blame myself for everything. For example, I blame myself that I can’t get members to complete their tasks; rather than understanding that they need to do so of their own accord. Also, I’m thinking that I don’t have what it takes to be a leader because I can’t even complete a mobile game; rather than understanding that a lot of projects fail and its more about trying again and again. Maybe this is all a part of the journey? I am doing what I can with what I got and sometimes I think it isn’t good enough. I refuse to give up though, which is why you’re reading this and why I’ve been considering redeveloping the project on my own using RPG Maker VX Ace. But, due to my limited abilities (and probably self-confidence), I’m unsure if it’ll lead to positive results, or would just be a useless effort.
I apologize if this feels like a rant or whatever but that is what the purpose of “Dev Diaries” is all about, getting an in-depth look into the minds of Cloudscape employees. Embarrassingly, this happens to be the mind of a struggling entrepreneur who has been trying to get his company off the ground for the past 4 years.
I wish I had the mindset to present everything in a “professionally positive” light, but I feel that it would be morally wrong. I think it’s best to be straight-forward with whatever I’m thinking, no matter how damaging it may be. This can be applied to many things but it should be a given for businesses, entrepreneurs and generally anyone who wants to create content for the public. I’ve received various opinions on how I shouldn’t do this or that because it could make me be perceived in a negative light. It’s their opinion and I understand their reasons. Personally, I feel that a leader is someone who needs to admit his failures because it could inspire others to persevere rather than quitting because they compare themselves to seemingly perfect leaders. I believe that since I don’t really know what’s going on with a given CEO, company, leader, (insert topic), as a result, I can’t fully trust or support them. I feel like in order to gain the trust and support of the public, my potential employees, fans or anything else, I have to be open about everything personally and professionally. This means that you will continue to read about my struggles as a game designer (I don’t view myself as one), an entrepreneur (struggling) and ultimately; someone who wants to do so much to help others, yet is unable to help himself.
Getting back to the subject of the game, although I have been considering redeveloping it on my own, I have launched my 3rd attempt at creating a mobile game. This will be discussed in…
Journey of Game Design – Part 3