Reflections Part 1 – Truck Trials
Truck Trials – A reflection
Truck Trials was my first game, it would be fair to say that when I started developing it I had rose glasses on, I expected it to be an instant success, in my head I had already started spending all the money I was going to make.
The Initial Idea
I have always enjoyed those brain contraption games like “The Incredible Machine” and “Crazy Machines”, but also knew that I wanted to learn how to program a physics based game. The physics games I enjoy the most are car games. The initial idea for Truck Trials was to try and merge the two genres together, a car physics game where you had to use different pieces to solve a puzzle to be able to complete the level.
The development stage took me about 13 months from start to finish, this was an extreme learning curve as I had no idea how game mechanics worked. I was quite methodical in how I approached the problem and spent the first month or two just watching tutorials and things before I moved onto actual code.
During those 13 months I probably spent an average of 20 – 30 hours (or more) per week working on this project, that is quite a commitment when you have a full-time job (I am sure most indies have a similar story) and everything else going on. Feature creep also meant that I had to continually learn new skills, for example, I decided that I wanted to implement a harpoon and figuring out how to do this with a flexible rope that wouldn’t pull apart at the joins took me over a month to code.
I really didn’t do much marketing, as I mentioned earlier I thought my idea was amazing and downloads would just metaphorically fly off the shelf. Like many devs I thought that marketing was something that you did once the game was finished, plus, I thought my idea was so cool that I didn’t want to share it until it was finished (I still think my idea was cool).
Once I finished coding my game I started looking around to see what my next steps should be and came across a checklist of things you should do when you release an app, this included (most of which cost money);
- Promo video – I went big, found someone on Upworks
- Landing page – Took me far too long, but I am happy with how it looks.
- Press release – paid for someone on Upworks to write and distribute.
- Emailing a bunch of review sites – quite a tedious process, probably emailed over 200 sites and got very few reviews (no big sites).
- Attractive icon and main menu – quite happy with how these worked out.
- Overall I enjoyed making Truck Trials, it was fun to take an idea go from paper to reality.
- I enjoyed learning a whole lot of new skills. I think that if I were to rewrite Truck Trials now I would be able to do it in a lot less time and my code would be a lot prettier.
- The day I published it was quite a high. I was and am quite proud of myself at being able to stick with a single project for so long.
- The feeling of “now I am an app developer”. I think actually releasing an app helped me to validate all the time I had spent.
- The promo video. I didn’t make it, but I was quite happy with the way it turned out.
- Watching the downloads trickle in (had no one told the app stores of my grand scheme?).
- .. and as a result of this, spending WAY MORE than I earned. At the beginning I was checking my add revenue every few hours, I soon realized that this was not needed as it wasn’t changing that much.
- It took way longer than I thought it would. I originally planned to write a quick game to learn some new skills, however, I was a slave to feature creep and this resulted in the game taking much longer than I planned. I also rewrote different sections of the code multiple times, I would find a better way of doing something and felt obliged to make sure all of my code followed the same coding style, in hind site I think I would have been better served to learn the skill, but continue to move forward.
Financially speaking, not great… All of the things above cost money (quite a bit for a poor indie), and as of the writing of this post I have made just under $40US (which I can’t transfer back to NZ because it will cost me $40 in transfer fees 🙂 ).
Beyond that however, I have found something that I really enjoyed, this was/is enough to drive me on to ‘rinse and repeat’ with lessons learned (hopefully).