This year we made a huge pivot from making animated cartoons on YouTube to trying our hand at indie game development. It was a very hard decision, mainly because none of us had ever made a game before.
We began with a large project in mind and got to work writing a long form visual novel. Progress was slow, we tested various game engines, we had long debates about UI, we struggled to find the characters and their motivations, we even made an in-game social media app.
We spent a lot of time making very small gains, we scrapped a lot of ideas (like the social media app), we settled on a game engine we could work with (renpy) and we buckled in for a long uphill battle.
Then something came up that changed our trajectory on a fundamental level. That event was the NaNoRenO game jam.
The rules were simple, make a Visual Novel in one month. All the assets, all the writing, all the coding, all the music, everything. Finish a game over the month of March.
With no experience making games, no friends in the indie game scene, and very little time to prepare, we went to work making that game.
It’s been about a month since we released our game: Order-A-Pizza: A Visual Novel. – If you haven’t played it yet. Please give it a play-though. It’s free (or donation if you wanna be really awesome!)
We have had some time to evaluate our successes and failures, to process just what the hell happened in March, and to get a little bit of distance from the project. We are going to be doing an in-depth post-mortem of our game. What we did well, what we could’ve done better and what we learned about game design and ourselves.
The first thing we will be tackling is why we decided to do this crazy thing in the first place. Because honestly… it wasn’t an easy decision.
As I said before, we were knee deep in a long term game project when we found out about NaNoRenO. We knew that participating in the game jam would postpone the release of our game by at least a month. Yet, we decided to jump on the opportunity. The decision ultimately came down to these 4 reasons:
1. We wanted to prove ourselves:
We never made a game before. We didn’t know if we could. You can tell yourself you can do something, but until you actually have. It’s just talk.
We also wanted to prove ourselves to other people. If we eventually wanted to charge money for a game, we had to prove to people we could actually deliver that game as promised.
2. We had no friends:
We literally knew no one who was making indie games when we started out. We had no connections, no friends, no one to talk to.
We wanted to meet people who were doing the same thing we were. To be inspired by them. We thought joining NaNoRenO was a great opportunity to do that.
3. We wanted a quick win
We wanted a small victory to motivate us for when we are working on our longer game.
Something we could work really hard on, for a short burst and see results.
4. We wanted to learn about all the little things you don’t know are a lot of work until you actually make a game.
We never could have guessed it would be as much work as it was to make a custom icon for our game. Or that sound effects can interfere with each other so you have to register multiple music channels in Renpy.
The point is: there are so many things you don’t know are going to be issues when you make a game until you actually make a game. We wanted to know what to expect for next time.
These were the reasons we decided to join NaNoRenO. Was it all worth it? Did we get what we wanted out of it? We will explore these questions and more as we delve further into our Post-Mortem, so stay tuned.