[Brisbane-based Bane Games recounts the process of going indie, developing their first iOS title, Flick Buddies -- and learning important lessons about timing.]
After many years working together in mainstream game development, a small group of developers decided it was time to "go indie" and create their own company. Bane Games
, based in Brisbane Australia, grew out of this desire to work independently on fun, small games. Our first title, Flick Buddies
, recently launched on the iOS App Store, and this is the story of its creation.
What Went Right
1. Rapid Development
With only four developers working part-time, we knew we had to set our sights on a realistic target to make sure we would produce our first game in a few months, rather than years as we were used to from our mainstream days.
We reached our first playable build in the first few hours of development and had prototypes of all 12 levels complete within the first few days. Much of this rapid development was thanks to the use of the Unity game engine. This freed me (our sole programmer) up to work solely on gameplay rather than engine development. The editor also allowed our game designer Simon to rapidly prototype level ideas and tweak values without ever touching script.
This rapid development helped keep team morale high, allowed us to rapidly iterate over gameplay, and kept costs low. Below are the approximate hours spent on each area of development:
- Programming - ~200 hours
- Design - ~100 hours
- Art - ~300 hours
- Sound - 26 hours
- Business/Marketing - ~100 hours
We spent a lot of time iterating over the gameplay to keep it as fun and tight as possible. For example, we experimented with different game lengths before deciding 60 second games delivered just the right amount of fun to keep players wanting more. We also spent a lot of time on the flick mechanic to make sure it felt as real and tactile as possible.
2. The Team
All the members of the team had worked together previously on at least one shipped title. This meant that we all knew each other's strengths and weaknesses going into the project. We'd also all worked under the watchful eye of publishers before, which accentuated the freedom we were now experiencing as we set our own deadlines and had complete freedom in design.
From left to right: Shauno (art), Alistair (code), Simon (design), Mick (audio)
We created the smallest possible team capable of creating a high quality game in a small period of time. We had seen how much money a large team could suck out of a company, and we decided on four core developers. This ended up being the perfect size, filling all the requirements of developing an iOS game. Any smaller would lead to holes in skills and leave the game looking unprofessional. Any larger and the fact we were working remotely would put too much strain on the team.