Lesson number one: indie game development as a side hustle is hard!
I have been programming now for several years and I’ve started to acquire a significant amount of professional experience. However, when it comes time to actually making money, I have had little to no luck outside my 9 to 5.
In this post, I’d like to share my experiences with indie game development, as well as my attempts to monetize my first game, Evil Space Cats. I’ll discuss my thought process during development, as well as our plans moving forward.
Why Indie Game Development? Go With What You Know!
After a couple failed attempts at different side project ideas, I decided to make a simple mobile game because I was very comfortable with the technology. I have been interested in front-end coding since I started engineering software and at the time I started working on the game, I had no strong experience constructing my own back-end for a project. So, an HTML5 game wrapped with Apache Cordova and packaged as an iOS and Android app became my go-to plan.
I still had fairly limited experience with games. Because of this, the first thing I did was read part of a book titled “Pro HTML5 Games”. This taught me more about concepts I needed, such as how to animate sprites. Although I only read a few chapters, the few things I picked up on game development were incredibly significant and went a long way in helping me to begin my journey.
Prove Your Concept
After the book, I immediately got to work on a proof of concept (POC). In order to ensure I saw the project through to being finished, I prioritized managing a very small scope. How I did this was simple. I thought of an easy game concept (space shooter), and I picked one aspect that I could make special somehow, like putting my own unique twist on something everyone was familiar with. In order for the game to stand out, I decided I’d focus on creating very cool and unique enemy abilities.
While I am happy with the way things turned out, in retrospect, I probably should have focused this part on empowering the player and/or adding addictive game mechanics into the design.
After the first 2 enemies were created, I was then well on my way to building the game I had in mind. I got myself a Macbook Pro so I could build for iPhone, re-themed the game so it’d stand out (Cats instead of regular space ships!), and pounded my head for 2 months worth of weekends trying to figure out how to get the sound to work cross-platform. (There are still sound bugs on certain phone versions =()
Success! ..Sort Of
After all of the above, a very ugly demo was ready for the app store!
Since then, I’ve added loads more features to the game. Google O-Authentication, a global cross-platform leader board, 2 new ships, a store, and a butt-load of bug fixes…and the game STILL isn’t “done”.
But I’m still proud of it.
For it being my first serious side-project, the reviews have been great! I have even had a handful of people contact me to give me feedback or just to tell me how much they enjoy playing the game.
Truly my favorite part has been hearing the frustration and laughter of people playing the game. Listening to the emotional response from different individuals is incredibly special.
So..Now What? How to Monetize?
Moving forward, it’s time to begin marketing the game!
I made a deal with my wife that if the game makes at least $5,000 in sales by February then I’d continue working on it. If not, I’d move on to the next project. We have a trailer that will be ready to be released soon. We’ve also planned the next small update for the game to include stronger bosses and a daily reward! I’ve purchased the domain evilspacecats.com, and I’m currently building a landing page. As the journey continues, we will keep posting blogs, gifs, and social media (follow us @evilspacecats). Feel free to reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter with questions and comments. Feedback is always appreciated!
Thank you everyone for reading this. If you liked what you read, please share and leave a comment. We will see you in the next post!