The Emotional Rollercoaster of Indie Game Development
Having been developing XNA games for Xbox Live Indie Games for about a year now, here is a look at the "emotional rollercoaster" I've taken during development of Nasty, subsequent sales of Nasty, and my development of Abduction Action!. It's been an interesting experience with some highs and some lows. I feel it’s been a good and rewarding experience overall (I made a game after all, even if it didn't have any zombies in it).
Development of Nasty started close to this time in 2008. Development of Nasty completed in August of 2009. It's December 2009 right now. The emotions below are listed in order, starting with my initial work in 2008 on Nasty.
Holy crap, I can make a sweet game on the Xbox and it's not even that hard to do! I'm gonna make an awesome game.
I've got something really cool here, I can't wait to show the world.
I really love doing this. Maybe one day I can do this fulltime.
Fix one bug / issue, find two more. This is not taking several months longer than I expected and the amount of money I spent on this game has gone way over what I planned to spend. Can't wait to be done!
Relief, Renewed Excitement
It's done! Submitting to review, people will be buying and loving my game soon.
Fail-worthy bugs found in Nasty, will need to pull the game from review, fix and restart the review process, what a pain!
Finished waiting my week in peer review purgatory, now waiting for more reviews. Come on, more reviews! Checking the XNA page constantly to see if I've passed.
Nasty is released! People will love it, buy it, and tell their friends to buy it. I will become a huge Indie game rock star and fall asleep each night on a pile of money.
Review websites give Nasty good marks, but reviews on the Xbox Marketplace are far lower. Sales are below expected, but still reasonable.
Nasty falls off New Releases list and one day later off of the Most Popular list. Downloads (and sales) plummet far lower than I had ever considered in even my worst case scenario. Would gladly take my worst case scenario over this!
Microsoft needs to do a better job with XBLIGs... Nasty is great but no one knows about it. Come on Microsoft, why did you screw me like this?!?
Nasty has its flaws. Nasty isn't everyone's cup of tea. A number of people expect Nasty to be something that it's not nor was ever intended to be. Nasty was released at too high a price. XBLIGs is not perfect, but Nasty's failures were my own fault. I'm gonna fix as many of those issues as I can. Maybe that will help.
Any notions of Nasty doing well are gone. Sales are so low that I might as well not be selling it at all.
This won't happen with my next game. My next game will be more fun, more polished, and released at the right price. If I fix my mistakes from the first game release, my second release will do a lot better.
Price lowered for Nasty. Sales increase 900%. Conversion rates are terrific, downloads are still low but seem to be slowing climbing. Won't be buying a Ferrari anytime soon, but things are a lot less bleak.
Right back where I started a year ago. Feeling good about Nasty. Feeling good about Abduction Action! (2010 release). Feeling good about XBLIGs as a platform. Can't wait to get more games done! Expect at
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