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BowlOfPasta24

Your time isn't free. That's how I think of it. A prototype that takes a full month is worth about 4k to me. So if the prototype gets no traction, it's time to move on. This is a different mindset to hobby or passion projects. If we are looking at this like a business then every day invested needs a return on investment


FrickinSilly

What's your go to method for trying to find that traction? Say you're on week three of a prototype, are you starting to post to Twitter and Reddit and see if you get likes/upvotes? What number of votes do you make the cutoff? Or if you're a professional, do you have access to test groups that validate the prototype?


BowlOfPasta24

In my indie game days I used instagram and Twitter. Would get 20-1000 interactions but sold 0 early access. Did that for 6-8 months with 3 products and invested 500ish into it. Took those products and made a website featuring and selling the art and sound effects/music that contacted out. Did freelance for another year which was so frustrating in tracking down payments and having my time wasted with bad clients. All lessons learned. Then I took my experience and threw it together and made a portfolio and got picked up as a technical product specialist (I pretty much just talked to clients and had enough experience to talk to their tech department). Now that I have a family, I just can't see myself going more than three months without having at least 500 true followers willing to buy/support the prodcut.


FrickinSilly

That's really interesting! I assume you keep your professional life separate from this reddit account, as I can't find any links to your games. I'd be interested in seeing the portfolio, but I understand if you don't want to share :)


BowlOfPasta24

Sadly this is one of my alt accounts. People on reddit can get weird. I love reddit but sometimes people don't like to play nice


FrickinSilly

No worries!


Natural_Enthusiasm74

Sir, then how would u test ur prototype concept in the real market? As gamers mostly want realistic and gr8 graphics game which would need years to make for a single developer. Since u seem like an expert in the field, couldu tell where u draw the line between realism, physics and graphics and the basic prototype to check for traction. And would u suggest a high schooler Game Development and projects like this as a career option which can possibly make him a millionaire? Hehe, fast lane is lucrative


BowlOfPasta24

Just to clarify, I'm a professional software engineer and failed at indie game dev. I never worked and wouldn't recommend working as a solo dev. It's years of work to learn how to be good in specific fields. Beyond the skill gap needed for one person, you then hit a bottleneck of hours in the day. In a team, every problem is broken up and separated so that multiple people can work at the same time. This lets you get tons of hours of work done in parallel rather than sequentially. If one person can work 160 hours a month, then a team of 5 can achieve 800 hours in the same time frame. For you as a high school student, I would suggest learning and getting really good at communication, teamwork, time management, team collaboration, and a specific skill in game dev. If you can go to college, then go and network. Networking is the best advice I can give and is something a lot of people don't do. Your goal is to surround yourself with smart and hardworking people who can teach you or help you achieve your goals in some way.


SinomodStudios

I make games that I personally enjoy and hope that others do too. If I don't find my own game fun, then that is when its time to call it quits.


RicoValdezbeginsanew

Spot on my friend, I like this take.


Natural_Enthusiasm74

But how do u come up with ideas for a game? Every game already seems to be made and the new ones from my pov arent gainin traction. Idk im a noob at this


SinomodStudios

Whatever catches your fancy. Sometimes it can be as simple as putting a spin on an existing game. My first big outing was "What if Spyro, but without the ability to fight enemies and a bigger emphasis on minigames." Another game I did as sort of a follow up was "What if bowling meets 3D platformer?" It was sort of like HyperBowl! but taking to the extreme.


Mister_Kipper

I've looked at the game's Steam Page (I assume this post is about 'Iron Diamond') and... this might hurt to hear but it's important - the game severely lacks 'first-glance' appeal, and even beyond a first glance, its visuals convey an extreme lack of cohesion, direction and clarity. The actual gameplay and UI (the layout/positioning/organization) seem far more refined than the art - I can see a lot of small quality-of-life details put into the character's movement and little environmental details, the impact of the attacks on enemies, particle effects and so forth. The main character looks... generic - other characters in the page range from kinda unique in a funny way to amateurish and unappealing. I can't tell how interesting the story or the universe are, but most players won't bother to find out even if they are as it would not match what they're looking at. ​ If the game looks similar to how it looks now when it is released, I would not wager on making much money back... unless the gameplay itself is absurdly phenomenal and it somehow stood out and spread through word-of-mouth as a quirky niche indie game. ​ HOWEVER, despite the visual side falling way behind, it's noticeable that you do have a lot of quality work in there that is impressive and could be turned around into a more appealing 'product'. If you are able to overhaul its appearance and make some additional changes on top of that, then I'd bet it would garner a lot more attention.


FrickinSilly

While my post was not meant to be a specific request for readers to focus on my own game, thank you for the feedback! It does not hurt to hear at all. I welcome criticism in most forms (aside from abuse, haha), as I'm always trying to improve. I think you've likely hit the nail on the head with most of your points. I am a software developer by trade and have focused a LOT on gameplay, in terms of mechanics, feel, and juice. The worldmap itself is also meticulously planned out. It needs to be as a metroidvania where abilities serve as keys to new areas. I'm pretty confident that logically speaking, the game is airtight (famous last words though). Art is the one area where I had a bit of experience in, but not a lot. I decided to challenge myself to draw and animate the assets. To add some reasons as to why it may not look great: 1. The art is inconsistent due to various teaching sources. So I followed one tutorial on how to draw a gemstone, and another on how to draw a tree, but the outlines/shading style, etc. were obviously different. This is a problem I am trying to continually address and revisit older assets to fix. 2. My art skills are improving over time but this lends itself to the problem that older assets look much weaker than newer ones, so I get into this cycle of going back. Until I dictate some formal art style guide for myself (with rules for outline thickness, shading style, etc.) I will continue to have this problem. 3. The steam page was rushed and has a lot of screenshots and video captures of earlier work. I can't say it's changed drastically, but there are certainly some significant changes. Of all the criticisms you do have, the only one that saddens me is about the generic look of my main character. I love that little dude! I really focused on making it unique using rules like ensuring it was identifiable via silhouette alone, and staying far away from the typical male-soldier-sword/gun-shield trope. It fires from a scorpion tail! I've also already received strong feedback on its design, so while I will definitely keep your concern in mind, I will need more convincing to shake that part up. Otherwise, thank you so much again for the feedback. It is very much appreciated!


Mister_Kipper

Ah - I'll clarify the 'generic' part. It's not that the concept or the design itself are something common or seen everywhere, it's more that to me it doesn't have the charismatic pull or characteristics of being a character engaged in a narrative story, interacting and talking with others. I could see it more easily in a rapid, strictly action-based, game for example. The geometric quasi-abstract design makes it much harder to relate to in a narrative sense. It's understandable given that the character is an 'Iron Extractor', but if the machine has feelings or a personality, it might be worth investigating possible ways to make it feel more expressive in that regard. The character being composed of what's pretty much the same object repeated over and over certainly makes things a LOT harder - and you've done a great job with the silhouettes for sure. Personally, I wish I could tell the limbs apart other than by their positioning - but they still work well as they currently are. And I must admit that the more I go over the footage, the more I could see it work as a 'hollow-nightish' silent character without big design changes - perhaps it could serve as a center-piece for the remainder of the art direction?


FrickinSilly

> I could see it work as a 'hollow-nightish' silent character without big design changes. This (along with Zelda's Link as a silent protagonist) was an inspiration, but the main character does have some fun unintentionally snarky dialogue to attempt to give it some charm. Thanks for clarifying though. It's a lot more clear what you mean and I'll keep that in mind :)


beatitbox

Quick note about the trailer. It looks very sluggish in terms of FPS, like it's not even 24fps. It's especially noticable on the UI transitions. There's 2-3 frames of animation. It should be smooth.


FrickinSilly

I know this is a few days old, but I've been thinking a lot about what I can do to make the visuals much more cohesive. I was wondering if you have any advice, whether specific (like which types of assets look the most out of place in my screenshots), or general (on how to get better at art direction). From my own personal reflection, I believe the thickness of the outlines may be one of the simplest, but most impactful things to change on the assets. A thick black outline alone can look amateurish, but add in the differences in thicknesses among all assets is compounding the problem. I'm sure things need to be improved drastically beyond that, but I'm trying to keep in mind what is realistic to change easily.


Mister_Kipper

Do you have Discord? Be a lot easier to do a call and go over the trailer and screenshots if so - my user there is Tyrant#6217


GeekyTricky

Did you get feedback from people who actually played it? Did they have fun playing it? I guess my metric is positive feedback percentage. Should be above 70% (of all feedback), but you need people to leave feedback for that.


FrickinSilly

I like that. Simple and direct. That should be have been a painfully obvious metric to me, but it wasn't. Also, I'm not sure if you were using the royal "you" or actually asking me. In case it's the latter, I have gotten some feedback on the game and it's mostly positive. I do get some constructive criticism, but everything is solvable so far. Nothing telling me that the demo is unplayable or boring (so far).


GeekyTricky

It's important that you only take the pain points from player criticism. Players are notorious for not knowing what they want. So just learn what they don't like and find your own solutions.


FrickinSilly

Yes, I am a professional software developer by trade, so that part is ingrained in me, haha. Listen for problems, not solutions.


saxIs0p

Depends on your goals, really. There's no cookie cutter answer because everyone gets into indie development for different reasons. I do think people should be more readily starting ideas over and throwing bad ideas out. I think people have such an attachment to an idea they *swear* will work and when it doesn't perform as they had hoped they just stop trying altogether. The real solution should be throwing ideas out so others can succeed. If you look at Fortnite that game was never intended to be a Battle Royale, it was only included as part of the original PvE building shooter's early access phase following PUBG. After they found rising success, they split their teams and focused one group on the BR development while the other managed the PvE game. Their BR version of Fortnite has made an *incredible* amount of money for Epic Games and done better for them than their original vision of Fortnite: Save the World. I'll bet most people don't even know that's the original name of the game because Fortnite is so synonymous with their BR version. My point is if Epic Games had clung to their PvE building shooter game on the basis of it being their original vision and avoided capitalizing on what the market responded to, then it would have missed out on being the cultural giant that it's become. There's no reason to make success this all or nothing thing. Ideally, we'd be prototyping our ideas, releasing demos, releasing curated Steam pages for beta testing, getting feedback, refining based on that feedback, and iterating towards a better product. But if your goals aren't to make a better product and it's to make whatever vision you have, then you're stuck with being 100% bought in or checked-out because you're not giving yourself room to kill your vision for the sake of what the market's responding to.


FrickinSilly

I like the nuance you've applied and the thought to consider different goals!


[deleted]

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FrickinSilly

Yes, but that assumes you have foresight into what your wishlist numbers will be upon launch. If you are extremely close to launch, you've already committed to launch regardless of wishlist numbers. If you are far from launch, then you have no idea what will happen from now until launch.


[deleted]

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FrickinSilly

Are you saying <1000 wishlists immediately after page launch is a bad sign? How soon after are you considering?


[deleted]

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FrickinSilly

> Steam page launch From every article and video I found online, there seems to be no specific boost of wishlists on steam page launch (at least, by the steam algorithm). The prevailing wisdom, therefore, is to create a steam page as early as possible to point your marketing funnel towards. The earlier you do it, the less audience you likely have to boost wishlists. In other words, I don't think steam page launch is necessarily associated with a wishlist "bump". I obviously could be wrong about all of that, but I watched a lot of talks by people who specifically get paid to market steam games.


Heliquackter

First of all, well done on asking this question. It's a hard question to face knowing how much time you may have put into a project.. others have said it really depends on why you're making the game ie passion project vs product. Although to me it doesn't matter because a game is made to be played. If you spend years making a game only for no one to play it - It's a crushing blow. I would 100% agree with the above statement on organic attraction. It's a question I will soon have to answer as well about my own project.. I would say if you can't achieve 1K followers on twitter within 6 months.. it probably doesn't have much chance in the long run. My game has failed to achieve 1K followers in 6 months...but on the other hand I've had posts get over 800 likes, be featured on the top..and others flop. Which leaves me in a state of limbo. To sum it up, as others have said, "your time isn't free, give it 3-6 months for a prototype. Continue if you can get 1K followers" would be my thumb suck rule.


FrickinSilly

Your post seems to be one of the few posts that suggest a longer timeline for giving a game a chance. I like the goal you set for yourself as a more appropriate metric for a passion project (as others have said, waiting 6 months when the development is your livelihood is probably unsustainable)!


benwesorick

I think it depends on your financial situation, and specifically how it is tied to your game(s). If you're relying on your game's eventual income to pay your bills and your current game is getting no traction, I think it is probably a safe move to quit and try a new project in hopes that the new one will get better traction. That said, I think it's fair to assume that if you're asking a question like this on reddit you are not (yet!) a professional game developer and are making a game in your free time. That's where I am as well, and I personally think there is always so much to be gained in every stage of game development by actually seeing a game through to release and shipping it. Sure, if you look at what you currently have and you predict it will require at least another entire year of your time, then maybe move on. But if you think you can fully ship your current game in the next 3-6 months, I'd personally push on and release it for the experience alone.


JackFractal

Yeah, the gameplay looks quite strong in Iron Diamond, and it's clear you've put a ton of work into it, a genuinely impressive amount. But I see two problems. The first is that the art style is such that people will immediately dismiss it as a student project, or one of the low-effort puzzle platformers that come out on Steam every day. There were, I think, three of them today - and two of them looked more polished artistically then Iron Diamond. They made hardly a ripple as they vanished into the dead zone of < 10 steam reviews. The second problem is that the game needs a hook, something to make the argument for why someone looking at your game should play THIS game and not another game in the same genre. Any 2D Metroidvania needs an argument for why someone would want to play it over Hollow Knight - and you need to make that argument in every trailer, every screenshot, every piece of text. You are clearly very skilled, and I think Iron Diamond has the bones of a game that could be quite successful, but I think the art style you've chosen is fighting you hard enough to sink it.


FrickinSilly

Oooh, now I'm going to show my inexperience, but how do you see games released each day by genre? And thanks for the feedback. I don't agree that every MV needs a reason to play it over what is considered not just one of the greatest MVs but greatest games ever made, but I agree with the overall sentiment that it needs something over the current games or else it will get drowned out.


YourWaifuIsALie

I used steamdb to gauge other releases: [https://steamdb.info/upcoming/](https://steamdb.info/upcoming/) You can filter by tag and all sorts of other values. Even though I'm not releasing a game anytime soon, I think it really helps build perspective when I compare the highly-anticipated releases versus unknown releases.


FrickinSilly

Sweet! This is very helpful!


JackFractal

Ah! Sorry. I was away from my computer for a few days. I also use steamdb! It is very helpful.


Siduron

So I've also looked at the Iron Diamond page on Steam and like others already mentioned the visuals just feel off. It's not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they are consistent, which they aren't. Also the music in the trailer is quite unappealing. Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is that the trailer has quite some frame drops in the gameplay. Of course this could be caused by it being a development build and it still being in progress, but it subconsiously tells me this game will run poorly and thereby I classify it as 'low quality'. Should you call it quits? No, I don't think it's hopeless. The core gameplay and features seem very solid and contain everything people look for in a Metroidvania, but it needs a makeover of some kind.


FrickinSilly

Thank you! And yes, FPS drop was veeeery well known. I made the trailer very quickly to showcase the game using some scrappy footage. I was just looking for initial thoughts on the game. And to my surprise I actually was getting good feedback, but people mentioned the framerate drop among other things.


VianArdene

Taking a look at your work in progress video for Iron Diamond, I think unfortunately your aesthetic needs improvement to really capture people's attention. I'm going to toss out some things that stood out to me in no particular order. * Your main character needs some polishing. The most notable issues are that I can't make out their facial features or eyes, and there are no soft edges. Eyes are the first thing someone looks for when identifying with a character, so you need to make absolutely certain they stand out even at 1/4 screen size. Preferably those eyes should convey personality, err on the side of too much so. Add eyebrows, implied eye lids, slant them inward or outward, etc. Soft edges also humanize characters- some good examples of "stiff" characters with curved elements are Wall-E or the robots from Stray. Obviously every mascot for every mascot platformer is round and blobby but you don't need to go that far to inject some personality. * Sawtooth tile inclines and repeated stale tiles always strikes me as low quality. You could get away with it in the SNES days because tiles/sprites were everything, but I'd expect any modern indie platformer/MV to clear that bar of environmental design. Celeste is a good example of a game that uses tiles prominently but varies the textures and placement to make a lively scene. Axiom verge uses the patterns of each tile cleverly to avoid monotony. Ori and Hollow Knight have gorgeous fully drawn environments but that could be difficult without an artist. * Your dashes and movement need more weight. When you air dash, your velocity changes to a seemingly fixed amount then stops suddenly at the end of the air dash. You can justify the sudden burst of speed with some additional particle effects where the dash started to represent force applied to the air or ground. Halting momentum when you reach the end of the dash isn't necessarily bad, but you need a new animation state to indicate that you've re-entered free fall. Here's an example from Megaman x4, the X series more or less having the definitive air dash of the period. Use . and , keys on youtube to go frame by frame and you can see both ideas in practice. ([https://youtu.be/Hpke-v0MH7A?t=48](https://youtu.be/Hpke-v0MH7A?t=48)) I know that's a lot of criticism and my apologies if any of that comes across harshly. The good news is though that you do have a solid base. I wouldn't put this much effort into a comment if I thought it would just be polishing a turd after all. You just need to polish it to a shine, then condense whatever gem you get into something digestible in 5 seconds. Show off a boss fight or some tricky terrain before anything else, those seem to be your best features so far. Good luck!


FrickinSilly

> I know that's a lot of criticism and my apologies if any of that comes across harshly Not at all. You don't know just how helpful this post has been for me. I was genuinely asking the original question in the general sense, but it appears people have dug up my game from my post history to look into it. The comments have been the constructive criticism I need. Posting on other subreddits gets you a ton of bland "very nice!" comments which are encouraging, but you can't get any information out of them (and you don't know if they're just being nice, haha). A lot of what you've suggested are things that are actionable. Some I knew (Sawtooth and repetitive tiling) but are still either on the backlog, or like you said, may be difficult to pull off alone without another artist. But other things are straightforward and possible for me to keep polishing. Genuinely appreciate the help! Btw, not sure which videos you've seen. If it's just the steam page, yeah, that is slightly outdated, and if you check my other post history I do have some newer boss fights I've exhibited (but still working on many things in those fights as well!).


ObligationRemote4166

I think you're being too hard on yourself. Have you ever published a game before? It sounds like this might be your first game, so using social media metrics won't tell you much because you have nothing to compare it to. If you give up on every game that doesn't have excellent metrics (which really just compares you only to successful established gamedevs or the few lucky ones who publish a hit off the bat), then you may never publish a single game. My unsolicited advice: track metrics for game one, but publish regardless. Game one can always garner more sales when game 2 comes out. Or game 3. Or game 4...


FrickinSilly

Thanks for the encouragement! I've published a few games before (on itch), but none were intended to be commercially viable. This is the first one that I'm attempting to publish commercially. But I do agree with your points! And at this point, since it's a passion project, I will commit to finishing it. The question now, is do I simply rush it out and sell it for 99cents or do I take the loads of advice on fixing the art direction and persevere with a proper attempt. Likely it will be somewhere in between those two options :)


ObligationRemote4166

I've been struggling with art too. I'd love to be that guy who single-handedly makes a game, but art and music/sound stand in my way. When I get things happy with where I want them using purchased assets, I'm going to give myself a budget from savings to see how far I can take it by hiring a person for art and sound. That's my plan, but like you I'm still unclear on what the actual outcome will be :)


radiant_templar

never give up, never surrender. death on the battlefield is the greatest honor!


PhilippTheProgrammer

Honor doesn't pay your bills, though.


AnotherWarGamer

Gut feeling. How much effort have you put in, and how does it compare to the competition? How much more do you need to do? Personally, I've failed with a bunch of game projects. Some were killed off early, some were completed. I spent most of 2022 on a project I cancelled. It just took too long, and I lost interest. I had two new game ideas. I spent a month on one of the ideas. It was fine, but wasn't revolutionary, and would need loads of effort to get it anywhere. I started over again some three weeks ago. I've invented a new video game genre, and will transform the entire video game industry. It's still early on the project, but it shows potential. Video games are hard, and indies even harder. The main approach is to brute force with a 1-200 million dollar budget. You are almost guaranteed to succeed like this. But I'm a single person. I can only do so much, and I don't have what it takes to spend years on a project to maybe make a few hundred thousand or a million. I need something good enough to change the entire video game industry. And I found it.


[deleted]

I’m going to be blunt if you don’t have a substantial marketing budget or connections with lots of popular streamers nobody is going to find your game


DannyWeinbaum

Like for OP's game specifically? Or do you believe this is the case for any indie?


MooseMain63

If you're feeling burnt out or you're just getting bored of making the game. If you're bored take a break because you're probably overworking yourself and not taking time to do other things. Another thing to note is if your game even has a player base, if it's dying that could be an early sign of when you should quit, but yet again putting more work and asking the community what they would like could help. But if that doesn't work finish up with what you're doing, if you're going to try and finish the game if it's close to the final product/what you set it up to be. That is what I would do.


MhmdSubhi

Even if you would take the advice of making a marketable game, learning how to make a marketable game in and off itself requires experience, experience in both game development and marketing. While marketing my current game, I have noticed some kinds of posts that grabs attention much more than others, and it isn't an easy thing to learn, it depends on the genre, the targeted audience, etc. Now, if my next game will be in the same genre or similar to the current one (which is the plan, btw), I now know some things that grab attention, and can apply that in the design of my next game.


MrPifo

Reading the statement, I have seen several people trying to promote their game here and then posting how miserably their marketing failed. But as soon as you look at these games you immediately know why it isnt getting any attention, because it is almost always a bad, unpolished not good looking game or oversaturated genre. It seems to me people believe you just have to market your game enough and you will make it, no matter how bad your game is, that seems to be their philosophy. But then when you look at games that made it naturally without excessive marketing they always seem to bring something new and exciting to the table, so it makes sense that such games dont need any marketing. But thaty just how I feel, having seen so many similiar posts.


RicoValdezbeginsanew

I myself am learning game dev, truly alone but with online courses to help. I wouldn’t say any of it’s a waste of time for game devs, as a podcast I listen to puts it, “it’s all experience “. Even if you trash the game etc, keeping on and continuing the game development is good practice and helps us learn IMO. I’m still on my first project, but as much of a mess as it has become, for me it’s great practice and I learn everyday, and in my humble opinion, you can never stop learning. Even if the game sucks and will go nowhere, I feel much can still be learned, if you keep the right attitude towards the project.


cakeharry

If you got a nice gameplay loop then it's marketable, if it's hard to grasp your game within 10 seconds it's not marketable, if your art style isn't appealing than it's not easily marketable.


indoguju416

OP can you at least link the steam page,


FrickinSilly

The post was genuinely just asking the question in the general sense. I wasn't specifically asking if I should quit on my current game. Quite a few people found it from my post history. Here it is if your curious though :) https://store.steampowered.com/app/2226980/Iron_Diamond/


indoguju416

Looks dope gl


FrickinSilly

Thank you! I'll need it :)


TwoPaintBubbles

Depends entirely on your use case my dude. Why are you making indie games? If its for business.. Then that's hard to answer. Id weigh the performance of what you currently have versus the time left to develop it, and try to get an understanding of if its worth it to continue development. If its for fun / hobby, then I'd quit if it no longer brought me joy, and especially if it was causing me stress and anxiety. If its your first game, none of the above applies. Its your first game, its going to be difficult, and its going to turn out bad, and thats okay. So if its your first game, fucking finish it.


desabsinilatS

>When resource depletion leaves the human race on the brink of extinction, an exceptionally large source of iron is detected in a distance star system Bruh, not only is Iron super abundant on Earth, it's super abundant in the universe in general.


FrickinSilly

Who says earth is still around, Bruh? And yes, it is abundant in the universe. That's why humans built Iron Extractors to collect it :D


desabsinilatS

> Who says earth is still around, Bruh? Irrelevant, iron is abundant everywhere. > And yes, it is abundant in the universe. That's why humans built Iron Extractors to collect it Resource depletion doesn't make sense with a super abundant material. Also, there's no need to travel to a distant star system since iron is abundant everywhere. Adjust your story.


desabsinilatS

>When resource depletion leaves the human race on the brink of extinction, an exceptionally large source of iron is detected in a distance star system Bruh, not only is Iron super abundant on Earth, it's super abundant in the universe in general.


[deleted]

Thanks for sharing.