When we started the company, about a year and a half ago, we decided that on special holidays we will create a cool greeting for our clients. The purpose of the greeting was the same as an email-list or any other inbound marketing effort: keeping in touch with people we already talk to, in a fun, non-intrusive way. This tradition was only put to practice twice, as we discovered plenty of work leaves very little time for marketing activities that are not a ‘must have’ – especially those that requires the whole team to be a part of the production.
This year, we faced a challenge – we really wanted to produce a cool game to send to all of our friends, but we are currently working on two major projects, making a marketing-game isn’t something that we can just squeeze in between.
Actually, you can. The goal was to make a game that doesn’t cost us more than 8 hours of production time from a 3 member team (8*3). Call it a mini-global game jam of our own, if you’d like. How did we do it? We followed the following principles:
- Priorities are everything – Say you wish to produce a game, software, an article or even a blog-post, you must ask yourself why you are doing it. In order to prioritize the development effort correctly, you must first set 1 main goal that defines the project. In our case, we see the game as a marketing effort. The purpose of the game is to gain attention, to lead people to our marketing material (this blog-post being one of them) and eventually to capture leads. What it means that we had to decide that the project includes a landing page, a lead collection form, a blog-post and links to our website – we needed to allocate time for those, and we know they are must-have. What isn’t a must have?
– ‘Reinventing the wheel’ (producing a new gameplay mechanic, for example)
– More animations (true, the game must look good, but it must look good within a limited production scope).
– Tons of features (replay value is important, but we said we want to lead people to a lead collection page, not to keep them playing for ages).
- Work plan optimized for speed – Think Agile, use tools you already know, stick to your plan.
Games are all about the creative, it’s quite hard to stay focused as ideas improve over time – during the course of the development we only did 1 major change, it was a thematic change after two hours of development – we decided that no matter what, we won’t be changing anything else from that point onward. Also, both the graphic artist and the programmer working had a goal of having the basic core of their work ready as soon as possible – it’s better to have half-baked graphics than a perfectly working game that uses place holders.
- Use every resource at hand – Whenever you can use stock assets – use them! As none of the core-team is a musician or a recording technician, we preferred to buy stock music and sounds. Whenever the stock sounds fitted well, we used it as is. Whenever they didn’t, we change the pitch/volume to get it to sound the way we wanted to. The alien voices, for example, were produced by buying a ‘cartoon caveman’ sound pack, and changing the pitch to a higher frequency. We also wanted to add more variations and the pack only contained 4 sounds – so we put them in reverse and got a total of 8 variations. ‘Doing more with less’ is an attitude that also helped us in the graphics department – costumes are built from 3 parts, allowing the characters to use a ninja mask together with a nurse body, for example. We would have much less variation if the costumes were built as one full piece.
- Take breaks – we split our production effort into two smaller chunks; we worked yesterday for about 4 hours, and continued today. Having a 16+ hour work-day won’t make a better game.
I truly hope we managed to create a fun experience, if you love the game, please share it. Feel free to send us feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(for those who arrived from the main webpage – the game can be played here)
Happy Purim everyone!
Itzhak Wolkowicz, CEO