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Curious about what goes into a small game?

10-16-2010, 06:24 PM
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 10
Curious about what goes into a small game?

Now that I'm done actually making the game I thought I'd start making some blog posts that might be helpful for others. This first one has a bunch of statistics about our first game, Hungry Helga: Blog Link

Let me know if you have any questions or if there's something you'd like to know that's not on there
10-16-2010, 06:50 PM
Wow, that's a pretty cool blog post. Are you planning on doing an entire postmortem report on your game? I'd love to hear about what you learned during the process!

RoboArena is currently 2 months into development and it is coming along at a steady pace.

Can't wait to see your game get approved! It's got so much character and style!

10-16-2010, 07:09 PM
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 10

Yep, I'll do a full post-mortem after the game has been out for a while so I can comment on sales and marketing as well.

I also have plans to do a post with in-progress screenshots, things I wish I knew when I started, and helpful code snippets.
10-17-2010, 12:20 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 479
You definitely have a lot of talent. Nice job on the game, it looks totally bonkers (in a good way!).

"when he eats three poops and becomes muscle bound, that was worth the .99 right there." -Super Fly!
Tetris and Bubble Wrap had a baby and named it Super Juicy!
TouchGen Best of 2009 Finalist! 5/5 Best of 2009
10-17-2010, 03:43 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 659
450 programmer hours but mileage may vary depending on experience.

now I dont feel so bad when I quote someone $9000 to make a game for them. That's only 20 bucks an hour.
10-17-2010, 03:48 AM
Hehe, yeah. It's always "oh, this will be a small game - how much work can it be?". But all the small sh*t take a lot of work - and it's the boring kind of work.

I'm looking forward to your postmortem. PMs are my fav on gamasutra
10-17-2010, 03:50 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 659
yeah programming even a small game is a big job.
and 20 bucks an hour is barely enough to cover the doctors bill from the carpal tunnel syndrome.

I was surprised by the number of artist hours but then I saw 1753 unique textures? Wow. Is that normal That sounds like a huge amount of graphics.

Last edited by 99c_gamer; 10-17-2010 at 03:58 AM.
10-17-2010, 09:29 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 184
Your game is looking quite awesome. I will be anxious to see it on the AppStore!

A few things that I think would be helpful to know.

1) How many developers were on this project? (i'm guessing two as there are two macbook pros heh)
2) Any marketing resources or launch preparation? ( I would understand if you wouldn't reveal that until the game is actually released)
10-17-2010, 05:15 PM
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 10
Thanks again for the compliments.

There was just one programmer (me) and one artist both working in our spare time on nights and weekends. If we had been working full time it would have only taken us 2.5 months instead of six, assuming the same number of hours.

The number of textures seems large, but when you're animating characters at 30 frames per second they add up fast. On the art side, everything had to be concept sketched, created in 3D (modeled, textured, rigged, and lit), and then rendered out to sprites with loop-able animations. On average everything took two revisions to get perfect, so there's a lot of work there.

On the programming side, the total time was influenced by a lot of things.

As noted above by minyx and 99c_gamer, it's easy to underestimate how long a polished game takes. I made a prototype of the basic gameplay in a single weekend, and I think that's what people often have in mind when they estimate time.

What people don't think about is that the prototype has no textures, animation, sound, characters, character AI, score keeping, font rendering, levels, super weapons, menus, etc. It has not been simultaneously optimized for app size, image quality, run speed, and load time. Then there's all the Apple junk that takes a long time the first time you do it. For as easy as Apple makes these touch devices for the end user, it seems they purposely make some things difficult for developers.

If I make a second game it would of course go a lot faster. Not only do I have code now to do all the basic stuff (I didn't use a pre-existing game engine for a variety of reasons), but there's also a list of a hundred little dead ends that I know to avoid. I know now that the PowerVR GPU is weak when it comes to overdraw and blending - you can maybe touch each pixel twice before you drop from 60 to 30 fps. I had to re-do the underwater light beams in a whole different way because of that. I know that, even though the device has 256 MB of RAM and doesn't multi-task, you can't use nearly that much for your app. I know which ten different icons Apple requires and what they have to be named and how they have to be entered into the plist. I know that if you get a generic "missing file" error when doing your distribution build it's probably because you turned off "generate debug info" in the build settings. All that silly stuff that ends up taking a half a day (or luck) to figure out would go much faster the second time around.

Last edited by Merax; 10-17-2010 at 05:19 PM.
10-17-2010, 05:38 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 659
Nice job the game looks excellent. Let me know if you ever decide to bring on another programmer. I'm interested in teaming up with some people for my next project.