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  • Ship It Fast: Why We Developed A Tiny Game In 2 Months

    [01.31.19]
    - Jair McBain
  • Before I get into the meat of this article, I'd like to offer a little context for our situation. Moth Likely is a brand new micro-game crafting studio based in Melbourne, Australia. Adrian Tosello and I officially formed the company in May while working on a number of prototypes. At that time it was our intention to explore potential aesthetics and themes that we are interested in crafting our brand and titles around. After a few months of prototyping and discussion, we realised that although making games we are passionate about is important to us (after all, creative expression is why we've both chosen to strike out on our own) we also need to validate the sustainability of our intended business model.

    With this in mind, we set ourselves some goals: establish whether we can turn around a relatively polished game in 2 months; discover how hard it is to get a game of this scale on iOS in 2018; figure out how hard it is to implement opt-in advertising and in-app-purchases; collect data on what kind of organic reach we have as an unknown company and use this game to test a number of marketing methods/ platforms post-launch.

    Here's the part where I shill the game for "context"! If you'd like to see the final product before reading on, you can download Oshka for free on iOS devices. For those after a TL:DP (too long didn't play) version, Oshka is free-to-play, endless Russian Matryoshka doll stacker with a cute and minimal folk-art aesthetic. The goal of the player is to stack their Matryoshka as high as possible, collecting coins along the way to unlock new doll skins, with a secondary goal of exploring outer space and finding Easter eggs for the intrepid stacker.

    Circumstance

    It maybe goes without saying, but as a tiny company in its infancy, we weren't in any position to expend significant resources by purchasing data, nor did we have a backlog of titles to look at for guidance. Understanding our position and respecting our limitations, the goal of this project was to create something really small that would allow us to validate our business model. Additionally, we imposed a number of limitations on ourselves; those being a 2-month development timeline, a child-friendly aesthetic, a single touch input mechanism, as little text as possible and a portrait locked experience to allow for single-handed play. All of these decisions loosely followed our core organisational values, the main one being accessibility.

    Compromise

    Perhaps the most obvious thing about taking on a project this short and with such tight financial limitation is the sheer number of compromises we knew we would need to make. Coming into a 2-month project, we were very aware that our scope would need to be tiny. We knew to expect unexpected disruptions, design issues stemming from a lack of planning time, necessary but unplanned iteration and unforeseen systems we might need to include to address platform requirements, just to name a few. To experienced game developers this might sound obvious, but I've always considered game development to be an exercise in compromise, and my reason for outlining our more notable ones here is simply to give you an idea of what kind of compromises you may need to make taking on a similar project scale and timeline.

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