The Trials & Tribulations of a Game Developer

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Founded in October 2014, Gemcraft Games has a goal to ‘craft our games into gems’ by making good quality mobile, tablet and desktop games.  They recently released their second game Connectum, so we talked to its founder and game developer Agis, as we wanted to learn about the obstacles they came across and how they overcame them. 

What does a game developer need to make a game?

Connectum, Avatar, Gemcraft Games, game developer

These are the avatars you can choose from Connectum – and there’s more you can unlock!

Wow, that’s a deep discussion!  I think the most important thing is to have a strong and committed team with clear roles.  Since making games requires many skill sets, from game design and art to marketing and QA, the biggest trap is coming up with a game idea that everyone loves, but the skills aren’t at the level they need to be for it.  Not being realistic on your team’s skill level could bring up obstacles during the development that could be demotivating to everyone, risking the project altogether.  Which, truth be told, is something common in our industry.

What else?

You have to have a marketing person! This is something I’ve learned while creating Connectum.  One person has to be committed to being active on social media, creating a landing page, writing blog posts, reading gaming articles, all from day one.

In general, just keep trying.  Quitters never win, winners never quit.  You may do everything perfectly, but your game might not be successful.  Don’t give up because it’s all part of the process – it’s all about learning from each project and evolving as a developer and loving to make games.

How do you find a team?

That’s hard.  Of course, having a budget makes things a lot easier, but hiring opens up another can of worms.  It’s important that everyone on the team, whether they have an equity stake in the game or they are an employee, believes in the game idea.  This is the challenge for game developers without a budget to find team members.  With the gaming industry being so saturated, convincing another game developer of the potential is becoming more and more difficult.

Tell us a bit about Connectum.

Connectum, game developer, Gemcraft Games, Spark Game Engine

Connectum – find the sequence of numbers with the highest sum before the time runs out!

So, it all started last year. I wanted to make a mobile game that would combine fast gameplay and easy mechanics in a graphical environment.  I started experimenting on paper; I drew several circles and wanted to make them part of a game.  I ended up with a pile of small pieces of paper with circles and lines in random patterns – that’s when it hit me.  Funny how that happens…I thought of having visible paths from the very beginning and the goal was to try and find the sequence of numbers with the highest sum before the time runs out.

My next step was to find a team.  I kept in touch with Adam, my artist, after having taken a game design course that he taught.  We had created Blits (our first game) together, so I pitched him the idea for Connectum and we got to work on the game design and the art.  Then I met our programmer at a gamedev meetup here in Athens and the team was fulfilled.

What were some of the difficulties you came across while making Connectum?

Well, the main problem was that we didn’t release the game when we said we would, but what’s new in game development.  Since we didn’t have a budget, like many indie developers nowadays, everyone was with an equity stake.  Some of the members had to work other jobs at the same time to cover living costs, which is what delayed us.  As a result, I also had to learn some programming so I could help out.

How did you feel about having to learn to code?

I didn’t like it, but it was a necessary evil.  I realized that when you get into programming, you can’t work on anything else.  With only basic knowledge, I had to study A LOT to get going.  It’s not something that I’d like to do again, but it’s likely not going to be the case, until Spark comes out, of course 😉

Spark Game Engine, Gemcraft Games, Connectum

So, once you finished with developing, what was next?

Well, it was a relatively easy game to make and it was done quickly. But all the nice extra features we wanted to add (leader boards, ranking system, social media sharing, notifications, friend list, economy, etc) were very time consuming.  What we did first was release a beta for testing.  We got feedback from players and started iterating.  It was great to have people who love the game take the time to help us improve.  The ranking system came into the mix after we realized that people wanted it to be more competitive. We based it on ELO algorithms and we’re quite proud of it.

Now, we’ve released version 1.4.0, it’s available on Google Play for the moment and we are making updates to it regularly.  People are enjoying the game, we have quite a few regular players and great reviews!

What’s next now that you’ve released?

Well, since we didn’t start marketing Connectum from day one, we’re going to be doing a bit more of that so more people can play it.  We’re soon going to start another game which will be a revival of an old retro game (not saying which) with some extra features.  It will bring back memories to many of us old gamers.

What will you do differently?

Marketing from day one, no doubt about it.  We need to get organized from the very beginning.  The rest of the process will be the same for the most part; I’ll be doing more programming, for sure.  Since it will also be a free game, we have to really work on the self-promotion system so that we give our players more incentive to share the game.  I think it will help greatly.

Well, thanks for your time, Agis.  We wish you all the best with Connectum and your next game 🙂

theodora kapsaliThe Trials & Tribulations of a Game Developer

24 comments

Join the conversation
  • Brandon - August 26, 2016 reply

    Hi, Theodora: can you tell me if this engine will support online gameplay when it is released? Also will it be free? Many thanks!

  • kaushik - August 9, 2016 reply

    what is the difference between beta and alpha

    legion-_of-doom - August 21, 2016 reply

    Usually an Alpha version is earlier or less stable then a Beta. And sometimes a proof of concept. Although I’m not sure if that applies to The Sparks Engine or not. (It already looks fairly stable.) So maybe the Alpha will just have less features then the Beta or Full version.

    theodora kapsali - August 25, 2016 reply

    The alpha will be a proof of concept with less features than the beta. Alpha will be 2D only, while the beta will also have 3D. After the alpha release there will be regular updates on the features available.

  • ramy - August 6, 2016 reply

    When is the game will be available to the public.

    theodora kapsali - August 25, 2016 reply

    We haven’t set a release date for the alpha, yet, but when we know we’ll let everyone know.

  • dan - August 2, 2016 reply

    hI theodora,
    what are the new features you have with the spark engine when it is released looking on Skype group for more information but disappointed in the group. too much off topic and rudeness

    theodora kapsali - August 25, 2016 reply

    Don’t have full details on the feature-set yet, but we’re working on it. It will be 2D only, for sure.

  • RAVI - July 11, 2016 reply

    I WAS IMMENSELY WAITING FOR YOUR GAME ENGINE, RELEASE IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
    MY MOTTO IS TO DESIGN ENTIRE GAME BY MYSELF WITH NO CODING.

    theodora kapsali - July 11, 2016 reply

    We are working as hard to release a Spark that is worth the wait for an initial release. Sign up to our newsletter so you’re in the loop when we release.

  • Sashi - July 6, 2016 reply

    Can you please email me a link to download the pre release version.
    I’m currently using Stencyl, Ceilfire and Clickteam fusion.
    Spark looks easier to use by what i’ve read on this site.

    theodora kapsali - July 6, 2016 reply

    We haven’t released yet. Sign up to our newsletter so you’re up to date on our progress and so you know when we do release. 🙂

  • Lestroso - July 1, 2016 reply

    Hi theodora, well the first challenge are for me….:
    1)how a game engine work…
    2) easy to use or not
    3)change in manner non linear the way to program…most of compiler is sequential…so if you must change something is difficult then to perform the right position.
    4) take the contributes…:sounds,graphics and so on..
    5) Loose may time to spend for programming….from the Idea to final game…
    I think is enought…Please theodora let me know when you are ready to release your beautiful game engine……SPARKTOOLS!!!!
    Best regards,
    Lestroso

    theodora kapsali - July 7, 2016 reply

    Thanks! 😀 We’ll keep this in mind.

  • Chris - July 1, 2016 reply

    I’m so looking forward to Spark. Really happy with the updates so far! 🙂

    theodora kapsali - July 1, 2016 reply

    Thanks for taking the time to leave us a comment, Chris 🙂

  • Sean Chambers - June 30, 2016 reply

    Can not wait! i love the look of this game engine, also the major fallback of construct 2 is that you dont have the freedom as you give with 3 work developments! i cant wait!
    Also the problems i face in development is with construct 2 i play my game on windows it works fine but then i play it on another pc and it lags like hell, so seeing this game engine brings me more possibilities! i wish it was released now XD, Also will it have tilesets and will you be able to collide with objects you set as solid in them?

    theodora kapsali - July 1, 2016 reply

    Great to see the excitement. Thanks for leaving a comment, Sean. Yes, we will have tilesets and yes you will be able to collide with objects you set as solid in them 🙂

  • Lestroso - June 30, 2016 reply

    hI theodora!!!! Now I’m Using Construct2, but is so boring!!! Your SparkTools is better!!!! I hope to work with your Super Game Engine as soon as possible!!!
    Bye Lestroso

    theodora kapsali - June 30, 2016 reply

    Thanks for leaving a comment Lestroso! What are the challenges you face while developing games?

  • patricia valverde - June 30, 2016 reply

    can’t wait for spark to release i want to make a game like gta

    theodora kapsali - June 30, 2016 reply

    Patricia, glad to see the excitement! What are you currently using to make games? What are your challenges as a gamedev?

    patricia valverde - July 13, 2016 reply

    im not currently working on any game engine i have absolutely no experience nothing in coding basically everything seems complicated but not with spark im also getting a new pc soon 🙂 btw sorry for taking a while to reply

    theodora kapsali - July 15, 2016 reply

    No worries 🙂 We’ll have some great news soon, so stay tuned 😀

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