Six sides of the World released some time ago. Not too many days back we added a whole new layer of content for the game. I think it’s time to take a look to the past and do a Post-Mortem of the game as we keep working in some prototypes of what occasionally will become Cybernetik Design’s next title, but we will talk about this topic in the future, now let’s focus on the past.
The game was developed in the spare time of Emilio, the one-man-army behind the development. It lasted approximately one year while he was working for another game company.
Good sides of the cube
The idea was crystal clear from the very beginning of the development cycle and it holded up with every new mechanic and level idea. Things like the cubic shape gave the game that affordable layer of complexity but with a good playability even when some special shapes came up.
The gameplay itself is rock solid and its usability is very good. Players were able to play without problems and they understood the mechanics easily and progressively. This was due to the level design, that was meant to teach by playing, serving the mechanics one by one as the player progresses through the game. We did an indirect tutorial, teaching at the same time the player goes on and being part of the main story.
We are not newbies in the industry even when Six Sides of the World is our first published game. Emilio worked for several Spanish game companies before working on Six Sides and that was a key to the success of the development.
As we said before, Six Sides of the World was developed in Emilio’s spare time and its expertise let him design the code, classes and the communication between the layers fast and with barely no need to redesign the schema.
That is very important in software development, because a bad design will need to be adjusted, or even redone, and this will need more time than you may think, because you’ve created some mechanisms in the code that will not feed the redesign, and trying to keep it working will lead the code to a worse performance and a higher error rate.
Level design workflow
Last but not less, the method behind the level creation was simple, but was versatile enough to let us design the special cubes like these with holes or inverted faces.
Its characteristics appeared organically as we developed the game and they worked flawlessly even with the special scenarios mentioned before.
Once more, this potentially saved us a lot of development time. When you design a workflow you will assume some tradeoffs and a bad decision may lead you to redo this methodology or even worst, you may have created some tools, and if they don’t fit well, you may need to redo the tools, and the assets!
The dark sides of the cube
When you rely in a third party engine the main reason is because it will save you time by offering solutions to the typical tasks you do in a game. Things like loading models, applying materials and managing scenes and an so on.
Pathfinding is a group of algorithms that let a gameobject find a way through the level to go from A to B. Unity3D comes with a pathfinding solution and it works well… meanwhile your game does not play in cubic planets.
We needed to write our own pathfinding code to be able to work on the six sides of the world, and it was time consuming in something engine related and not game related.
The initial diffusion
Six sides of the World was developed by Emilio and he originally published by himself. The lesson learned the hard way was contundent. Making the game is only one part of the equation, selling it, creating and maintaining a community and the bureaucracy behind the business side was too much for a one man army.
When the game is “ready” (in the technical way), you need the urge to publish it, it’s done, right? But that was a very bad idea. The game needs to be discovered, and you have two options. You can spend money to buy ads, reviews and other marketing stuff, or you can grow a community waiting for your game.
As an little indie studio we can’t afford the first option, and we underestimated the effort you need to do to generate a community. It’s a daily basis work, paying attention to the people one by one, and this requires time. We did not invested enough.
The lack of a narrative
Well, the title does not fit the reality. The game had lore from the very beginning. In fact, Emilio is a writer too, and Six Sides of the World storyline was in his head.
But having ideas and creating a narrative it’s not the same. It needs time and effort and finally it was stripped off the game until now we updated the game to add this new content.
If you played the game before this last update you may remember that there were some clues about existing “something more”. For example the green cubes were present, and the idea was to add the narrative tied to them.
Developing a game in your spare time has risks like we explained in this post-mortem, but the pressure of timing or sell expectations are lighter.
However this is a first step to enter the industry, and it’s a model that we will not be able to repeat. Towards the next project we will apply the experience earned this this project and reach better results. Obviously, we will reach you to tell about the development news.
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