I love my evening walk on rainy days. The fresh and earthy aroma, green grass and rain droplets that rest on the leaves occasionally slipping off and falling on my forehead, feel like home. Evening walks in Bangalore give insight into its life, a city which offers opportunities and entertainment.
I didn’t introduce myself. Hmmm… After finishing my education, I arrived in Bangalore along with my friends and like most engineering graduates, I started working as a software developer.
You must be thinking, “Why is a developer talking about nature?”
Well, I’ll share that with you in the course of our walk.
Last Sunday my friend asked me, “Hey dude, how about a movie? “
“ Which One?”, I replied
“Why not ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’?”, he said
I hesitantly agreed. We reached the crowded theatre. To my surprise, the theatre was charging Rs. 25/- per 3D glass, which was supposed to return back after the movie. We collected the receipt and glasses.
The movie was good, I felt it was better than Star Wars. But the money we paid for the 3D glasses kept bugging me. How odd, a multiplex charging for glasses. It’s something that is supposed to be offered for free, and something they take back when we leave the theatre…!!!
We decided to walk home after the movie, from Tavarekere to Silkboard circle through BTM. On our way back, we discussed a whole range of topics right from people in general, differences in life style, our society and life as a whole. We come across a Hawker, a Super Hero to me, who was selling mangoes. His eyes reflected his daily struggle. He stands the whole day, be it sunny and rainy, to ensure the “SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST “strategy. He may even have a big family to feed.
Along the way, a cute little kid drove by with her family. Joyously we continued to walk admiring the cute smile of the kid. Still the thought about Rs. 25/- 3D glasses haunted me. You guys might be thinking “What kind of a man is he? Cribbing over a small sum of Rs. 25. I assure you, I could have spent it in a better way.
As usual, The Central Silk Board junction was crowded with beggars- men, women, children. I noticed a lady among them, it was evident that she had not had a proper meal for the last few days.
I convince myself every day that “They are what they are and are used to this kind of living”. We are different people; we have a lot to do. We work, then we enjoy our life during weekends in pubs or discos.
Suddenly I noticed that the lady is wearing a torn Saree. She used her shivering hands and legs to try and keep herself warm. The irony was, the couple walking in front of us were talking about fashion and style.
We reached our hostel and started discussing about the movie we watched with my roommates. I told my roommate who missed the show that he would have loved to have been there.
Suddenly my friend who came with me for the movie called me. “Dude, my friend is coming to Silk Board. I need to handover a bag, could you come with me?”.
You all know how difficult it is to deny a friend’s request. “What the hell?”
I made up my mind to accompany him. My friend was carrying a bag which he wanted to handover to his friend. We walked for a kilometer or so and met his friend at the junction. While they were talking, my eyes searched for that lady, she was there sitting in the cold weather, shivering and scared.
While returning I noticed my friend still had the bag with him and I reminded him about it. He said “Wait..!!”.
Then he ran to the lady and gave her all the clothes that were in the bag – T-shirts, Sweaters, and woollen wear. I stood there stunned. The guy whom I spent last 3 years with in the same hostel had suddenly become an enigma. He is a real man, even though he doesn’t show any emotions, within him was a compassionate heart.
He taught me a lesson. Like myself, many people out there need a change in attitude. If you see someone who is needy and needs help, don’t hesitate. Don’t walk away at that moment You are the most suitable person to help.
Even today I remember her lit up face and the tears of Joy in the eyes of the lady. This is something will stay with me for a long time.
Back when I was sitting in my college dorm room coding up my first games, I had no idea what I was getting into. It was beautiful, glorious even. When the rest of the students toiled away learning how to write enterprise code that will save people time and money, I wrote code that did the exact opposite. I wrote code that made companies bleed productivity. I wrote code that made people laugh, rage in anger, sit on the edge of their seats and twitch. I made the addictive digital equivalent of Meth.
I sent my builds to the best coders in my class with the note, “Go ahead and build that OS you’re working on. I’ll make darn thing fun.”
I was always ‘that guy’. Missing parties to sit in my dorm room and code. Skipping class because my lecturers gave me attendance to finish my games from home. Sitting in the college lab playing games and calling it research.
Somewhere down the line, reality hit me square in the face. Game production is not all fun and games.
College education is the best phase in a person’s life to make mistakes. You’re young enough to learn from them, bounce back and hit the grind again. Frankly, if you haven’t messed up big time at least once while in college, you’ve missed out on a grand opportunity. But once you’re out in the wild, reality has a way of slowly seeping into your brain and messing with your dreams.
So here I was, trying to make a living from my games. When reality hit me in the face, the following fell out…
I’ll be giving away my games for free to my players (Awesomesauce, where’s my lunch money going to come from?)
Players have millions of free games out there that they can play instead of yours.
I knew how to make games, but I didn’t know how to make revenue.
I could get hired at a studio and become a Game Engineer but then,
I don’t get to make the games I love to make.
And so I turned into one of those unpredictable creatures they call the ‘Indie Game Developer’. I thought I was done with the learning from mistakes part in college, but boy was I wrong. Here’s what I had to learn the hard way…
Fitting your big idea into a timeline and a budget is HARD and painful. You find yourself pacing around thinking what part of the awesome feature set you’d kill to let the rest of it survive and get released. It’s very much like a hostage situation where somebody is definitely going to die.
Murphy’s law is a very real factor when building games.
Things always take longer and cost more than planned, even if you keep this in mind while planning and costing.
If you do it right, you’ll probably hate playing your awesome game by the time you ship it. If you still enjoy playing it, it probably means either of two things…
You’ve not worked long and hard enough on it.
You’re a delusional narcissist.
Till you ship it, you’ve done nothing.
A late game is only late till it ships. A bad game is bad till the end of time. (Thanks for warning me about this Miyamoto-san. But I still had to learn it the hard way.)
Build only the best thing you can build. Repeat.
Never trust the publisher.
Never expect the player to do what you want him to do.
If there is a possibility of an exploit in your game, your players WILL find it.
They’ll also make a blog post about it and share it on social media.
They’ll not find it necessary to tell you about it.
If you can’t make revenue, you can’t make games. Not the other way around.
Always make your decisions based on data.
Relying completely on your gut feel and instinct will get you far if you’re heading towards failure. Here’s the thing, you need to use your instinct to develop the hypothesis, but you need data to validate them.
Surveys don’t generate usable data…
A lot of people can’t articulate what they want.
Some people just won’t tell you what they really want.
A lot of people don’t know what they want.
But they all really want it. Now.
Opinions are opinions.
You can never make a list that is actually fully exhaustive. That includes this one.
Don’t take advice from a stranger on the internet. That includes me.
That was my Indie phase. It was after I came to TechTree that I went from being an eccentric creative with no direction, to being a methodic and meticulous craftsman with a mission statement. Mark Skaggs, an industry leader credited with making legendary games like ‘FarmVille’ and ‘Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2’, once told me that he was just like me – the difference being just that he had made a lot more mistakes than I have and learnt from them.
Enough reading: Now go out there and make some mistakes.