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Move or Die and its 5+ Year Journey to the PlayStation 4

by Nicolae Berbece on 03/05/19 09:58:00 am   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

The self-proclaimed Designer

Hi, I'm Nick, a 20-something year old indie dev from Romania, responsible for the existence of Move or Die. In case you haven’t checked it out already, which you definitely should, it's a friendship-ruining party game where the rules change every 20 seconds and, as the title says, if you don't move... you die (only in the game though).

This is the part where you become completely captivated and go check out the game. If that’s not the case, you can continue reading this and eventually find out out that I had no idea what I was doing during most of the development process.

Flash games era

It all started years ago (literally) in my bedroom, while I was prototyping ideas for my next flash game. Yes, it was that long ago. However, back then it wasn't designed as a party game, it was a puzzle platformer called "Concerned Joe", that you can actually still play today. (please don’t). 

The game gained some traction, as much as a flash game could, so I figured it deserved a proper "remake" with a new engine,  new graphics, new levels and new everything. I started re-building the game from scratch with a handful of friends on a you-help-me-I-help-you basis, because I had no money to pay anyone. However... one fateful night we decided to add 3 more players to the format and see how it feels.

As it turns out, it felt pretty awesome, and so MOVE OR DIE was born.

Now, I don’t know if you happen to be a developer yourself, but creating a game is nothing like the falsely advertised dream. It’s playing the same broken prototype hundreds of times a day, all while trying to keep it from catching fire.  As you may suspect, it all gets very tedious very fast and staying motivated becomes one of the biggest hurdles you have to overcome while making your own game. 

The development swamp 

The whole development process was basically me winging everything because not only was this my first “real” non-flash game, but it was also developed in an engine that wasn’t very popular (not compatible with PlayStation 4). So, yeah, some bad decisions were made, let’s not point fingers.

I lived with my parents to cut down on development costs, the last-stretch funds being actually borrowed from my dad. Programming was done by friends and I had to kindly ask people on forums to help me our with testing because it was too much for me to handle. I was already swamped by the art side of the game, as well as by handling design, marketing and even the sound effects.

 

 

Then came 4 LONG years of development during which I did a horrible job prioritizing tasks. We spent almost a whole year working on the level editor instead of on content, which, in hindsight, wasn’t a great decision. 

It’s really frustrating to have your friends ask if they can try out your game and, after a year of development, all you can say is “No, but you can try this kick ass level editor” :D.

The game finally came out on PC and it did surprisingly well! Well enough to allow me to hire people FULL-TIME (including someone responsible for QA)!

I started coming up with more "game modes" ideas and quickly packed them into a short demo that I first asked my friends to play by bribing them with pizza. After that I started showcasing said demo at local events, sometimes by straight-up hijacking the nearest table with my setup. My efforts didn’t turn out to be in vain and soon enough I began taking Move or Die to international conventions, promoting it the best I could. Many friends were made in the process, including some that literally beat me at my own game, which was weird.

 

 
Going to all these events showed me one important thing - people really enjoyed my game. Even though my booth was literally made out of a table with my bed sheets on top and my living room TV working as a display, people stopped by, tried the game and had a great time in the process. Sometimes we even had parents play with their kids, which was really something. 

 

I promised to myself that I would never add micro-transactions to my game because I hate them, so what followed were 3 years of keeping the game updated with big thematic updates, completely free of charge. We ended up adding a lot of new game modes, characters, mutators and completely new mechanics to the game, as well as managing to convince some really awesome people to let us use their characters and ideas in-game. This is how we included the likes of Rick and Morty, Shovel Knight, VVVVVV, Super Hot and Heavy Bullets to Move or Die. 

 

I also value the presentation of the updates a lot so I wanted to personally make a trailer for every update the game got. Below you can find a playlist with all the Move or Die update trailers. They total in 20+ minutes of run time combined, so I won’t blame you if you skim through them.

Click here for the Awesome Playlist!

 

The weird and the awesome

We had our fair-share of “unusual” things happen during this update period:

  • We managed to get enough viewers on Twitch to show up on their front-page above Minecraft and Call of Duty,  if only for a few minutes.
  • We made merch, like pins, shirts, and most notably plushies, because we managed to sell one smiling face with open mouth & smiling eyes 
  • A french quiz website stole our character and used it as their loading screen.
  • We were contacted by a major phone carrier to feature Move or Die in one of their commercials running on a tablet even though Move or Die was never designed for that… They ended up going with Pokemon GO instead.
  • A Chinese company offered to buy the Move or Die IP for "China's biggest FPS game"… as a loading screen.
  • Someone created a Move or Die ripoff on mobile that we didn’t do anything about because we’re not planning to go mobile so… eh

 

The conclusion

All in all, it was an awesome journey! After many years of working on this, I am happy to say that Move or Die is finally out on the PS4! It’s my first console release and it's with the same company that made the consoles I grew up with. 

3 Years worth of free updates and weird ideas manifested as game modes and characters in this odd game I managed to put together with a team of awesome developers from around the world.

For you, this is just another multiplayer indie title in the PS Store. For me it’s a dream I followed, materialized under the same 3 words I had stuck in my head for the past handful of years of my life.

 

Move or Die.

 

Looking forward to lose at my own game against you.

I’ll be in the online lobby <3


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