So last week we finished and released our first game, Commander Wallis and the Tentacled Menace, on itch.io. Here’s how we did:
We knew this was going to be hard, and the stats confirm that we’ll have to fight for every single user. In a crowded (market-)place, it’s hard to get noticed. On the other hand, it’s kind of great that 28 people downloaded and played our game! We feel we accomplished our goals with this release: learning the technical, design, and managerial lessons we needed.
What Went Well
The process of making a game in one month worked out pretty well. The overall strategy aspects, the story, the graphics, those turned out nicely. Technology-wise, we chose NW.JS for our platform, no game engine or framework, just a thin wrapper around WebGL – performed well for our purposes and was fun to program with. Doing lower level development without a game engine gives you certain freedoms and even speeds up development in places, but on the flip side it comes with a reduced feature set (especially since we only have a month to finish the game). In the case of Commander Wallis, this trade-off was perfectly okay.
What Could Have Been Better
The game has some pacing and UI issues which could make it less suitable for some players. I’m not sure we would have actually needed to make 10 levels, considering that most players will probably only play to the 3rd level, tops. Getting people interested in the game was very hard, and we could have made it easier by providing a press kit and some gameplay video. We also should have launched the website and the Twitter account first, to build up a (small) audience instead of just putting it online on release day without context.
These are all actionable lessons we need to keep in mind!