Aesthetic Posted December 7, 2022 Share Posted December 7, 2022 Recently due to some changes in my career and other life circumstances, I've put Leafling into maintenance mode. I started the game back in 2018 as a fun side project to keep me occupied and it quickly became something really fun that I wanted to expand upon. After a year and some change in development, I felt the game was ready to show to the world in a minor early access. I applied for the Steam Partner Program, got in, and released my game in early access. Throughout the last few years I've learned a tremendous amount that many people will learn too late, and I would like to share that with the community. 1) Extensively bug test your project I know this one seems rather self explanatory, but it really cant be understated. No matter how much you test you will never find all of the bugs in your game. Players will always play your game in unexpected ways or do things you would have never expected, and this will always lead to unforeseen circumstances. Your job is to narrow down how many bugs that can be found by the playerbase as much as possible. In specific make sure you pay extra special attention to things that drop/grant items, affect a player's ability to progress, and grant one player the ability to negatively impact the experience of other players. 2) Design for the future - Now One big roadblock in development I constantly hit was short-sightedness. Often we think of cool new features, items, and systems that fit perfectly into your current game. Often, however, things that work well now may not work so well a year down the road with the inclusion of other systems, items, ect. Some of the most important advice I can give you is to plan your game in full detail from the very beginning of development, and if you are already in development consider what changes you can make to future proof your game. This will save you literally thousands of hours of development re-doing old content or reworking old systems in what can quickly become a spiderweb of systems. 3) Do something no one else is Even if you're making a game that falls into a more generic fantasy RPG theme, you can add appeal to your game by focusing on niche systems, ideas, or concepts that other games aren't doing, either in the gaming space as a whole, or just in the indie space. For Leafling I tried to focus on having the most fast paced, high skill ceiling, and engaging combat I could while also heavily leaning into an extreme level of player customization, however you can set yourself apart in a million ways, you just need to find what works for your game, be creative! 4) Players are not your friends After releasing your game you may start to build a respectably sized community. When this happens youll be exposed to a myriad of people with differing ideologies, personalities, and cultures. It can be easy to find someone you get along with a form a sort of internet-friend bond with them, however remember that once your game releases you are your brand image. What you do and say represents your game and vice versa. If you do or say something many people do not like your game will suffer from it. Be careful what information you share and with who, and what you say in certain company if you are trying to maintain a commercial project as any of it can be used against you in the future, even out of context, or twisted in dishonest ways. 5) Feedback is important - But only sometimes When your game is released you'll undoubtedly receive an enormous amount of feedback from an equally enormous amount of sources. Listening to player feedback is one of the most important things you can do as a game developer, but so is sifting through good, and bad feedback. When considering making changes based on player feedback try to focus on things that the majority of your core playerbase wants first and always weigh how one change can affect the gameplay experiences of different types of players. For example, we often had 1 or 2 very vocal players pushing for changes and since they were so vocal it was easy for their feedback to drown out more popular, yet less vocalized, feedback. Also always remember that you will never make everyone happy, so strive to make as many people happy as possible. 6) Weigh your publishing options While Steam is a popular and powerful publishing option, other choices like itch.io and others are just as valid. If you're confused about what publishing you should choose, consider the following pros and cons. Steam: Pros: *Mass Visibility *Great Networking Options *Free Included Updater *Community Hub *User Review System helps with feedback *User Friendly Dashboard Cons: *Application Fee *Terrible Support *Largely Unmoderated User Review System that promotes review bombing, dishonest reviews, and trolling/griefing *Discoverability based on unmoderated User Review System - Once you go below a threshold your game is effectively dead permanently *30% Profit Cut to Steam *If you make under $100 in a month, Steam will steal your money as they do not give payouts of less than $100. If you don't think your project will bring in a ton of money per month, do NOT launch on Steam, they will take 100% of your proceeds. Itch.io Pros: *Amazing support *Userbase is extremely welcoming and positive about new projects *Optional donation feature on game download *User friendly update panel *Free to setup *Negligible profit cut Cons: *Less visibility *More competition from similar indie games *Aged game profile screens *Not as much userbase traffic Thats all for now, if I think of anything else important I'll edit this post. In addition, I will be donating the Leafling Engine fork of Intersect to @jcsnider @panda @Daywalkr and the other current active developers to take what features they may salvage and add them to the base engine. I hope this helps someone and if you ever have any questions about anything feel free to ask here or shoot me a dm. Thanks again to jc, panda, and everyone else who keeps AGD running so people can keep passion projects like this alive. 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