Hello and welcome to the Boss 101 Holiday Update!
Hope you are having a great day and that your end of 2017 is looking to be awesome.
We have a few things to talk about and then we are off for our own holidays with friends and family.
Gamasutra Post Mortem
We had our Boss 101 postmortem published at Gamasutra. In it we took a look at the whole development process, how we got from a Flash game to Steam and generally talk about everything we could think about! We wanted to drop in some snippets from that document so you can see for yourself!
Here’s a direct link to the blog: https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/TimDonley/20171210/311377/Postmortem_Making_Boss_101_and_living_our_dreams.php
For the TL;DR crowd
Those looking for quick summaries of the right and wrong way to make a game, you can just keep on browsing. There are few sound bites here. I liken making a game to raising a kid. You might have a plan going in but the kid has their own personality and way about them. You can fight it or you can encourage it. Boss 101 was our kid and though the game came out differently than our plans I'm incredibly proud of the team and our result. We did indeed live our dreams.
For those wondering about making games themselves
If you are looking at making games and wonder if you should, I ask you this... is it your passion? Do you feel a drive to do this even if you aren't getting paid? Do you work on games in your spare time? If you do or even feel the urge to create games for the love of games then do it. JUST DO IT! Don't listen to the naysayers. Find supporters. Work hard and be dedicated. You can do it. You will do it. No one can tell you different.
For those wondering about "should I use this or that engine" or "this or that application for graphics, programming or sound"
Listen very carefully, there are no magic bullets in game development. Read that again please.
Everything worth two craps on this planet is the result of a lot of hard work, dedication and sweat. Games are no different. There are plenty of apps and engines out there. You need to do your own research. Do the legwork yourself and make decisions based on your talent and ambitions. What works for one might not work for you. We can talk about why things worked for us but you might be different. Remember that.
Picking a team that's right for you
If you got this far then heed my advice. I'm an an old vet who has managed and worked with many, many teams. The advice is....
Work with people you like.
This will make your journey a LOT easier and much more fun.
When looking for people to help with Boss 101 my only thought was "Who would I get in a foxhole with if the bullets were flying?" I put out ads on a bunch of art and programming sites. I ended up being fortunate to find two people who were not only talented but incredibly fun to work with. We shared many of the same gaming passions and complimented each other in our skill sets.
I have a theory about people on teams and it boils down to this chart:
I know what you might be thinking "Hey, we need TALENTED people even if they aren't 100% onboard, they will still make a difference!". Yeah they will. They will sink your ship faster than a torpedo. You do not want talented people who aren't onboard with your project or company. Those people are leaders and if they don't like your project they will poison the studio in more ways than I can list here. You are far better hiring passionate people and training them up. They will go farther and do more. The other two quadrants speak for themselves I think.
I was fortunate with Boss 101 when I found two talented people who also believed in the project. From there it was a matter of making the game.
The Development Process of Boss 101
A common question we asked was "Is this fun?" about everything. We added fun where needed and subtracted or adjusted un-fun items. I'll list tenets of the game and explain each as we go along.
Entertain always - Every screen, round and aspect of the game was there to entertain in every way we could make happen. All game screens have at least some animations to prevent static or still moments. All screens contain items which relate to the world. Every time you play a minigame or sit on kite hill things are meant to fold back into the main Boss 101 narrative in interesting ways. As much as possible there were two or more bits of info, story or data in any player interaction with the game.
Tell a story - Boss 101 has a story and characters that exist in their world. We created a large narrative for the world and while parts might be unseen, it was all there when we made the game. This is what informed design decisions and ideas. It sounds absurd to say there is a reason for Make-A-Boss in any universe but we did come up with a reason and used it in the game. Things like this helped us make sense of the wacky nature of our game universe and lead to a lot of new ideas that fit well with everything else.
An example would be our BERL tutorials. These were done at the end of development. When coming up with how tutorials should look and function we referred to all the prior things in the game (story and visuals). We ended up creating a new jetpack character (BERL) who was a lonely janitor type. It made sense and gave the game a new person to play things off in the main game.
Give the player stories too! - We wanted to create a situation where players have stories to tell their friends and family. This could be from having an amazing game round, discovering a secret or maybe learning a fun bit of story from the main campaign.
Do things which make sense - this is an obvious thing but it might be one of the reasons the game took so long to complete. We regularly added time to development to do things that made sense. Adding in features like nice options sliders, difficulty modes, tutorials and a good amount of weapons and abilities for the player. Boss 101 started small and grew in organic ways. We didn't let the game get hampered by a deadline. We played, assessed and adjusted all the way through. A lot of times the discussion started with "Hey, this isn't Boss 101 enough!" haha
Make it right versus hitting a date - one huge thing we committed to early was making the game we wanted versus hitting a date. It seemed some of our favorite game companies favored this model too (Valve and Nintendo for example). It meant the game ran longer than estimated but it made Boss 101 something very unique and in our opinion - high quality. It's not a luxury everyone has but we felt we had to differentiate ourselves in some way and this was it. We took our time. To put this in perspective we had three people full time for much of our three and a half years.
Feature creep versus connective tissue - very much related to the above is the idea of feature creep versus connective tissue. Connective tissue for us were features that we did not plan for but upon testing a new system we would realize we needed something to bridge it into the main game. Maybe an interface, a sound, etc. It could be anything but we worked to make sure all the connective tissue was there.
Ok – there’s more in the postmortem so check it out!
We have a couple announcements we except to land first thing in the new year as well as a peel at the next project we are working on!
Thank you so much for your support!
Thank you again and again for all your support over the holidays and THANK YOU so much for being there with us during Boss 101’s development.
You helped us live our dreams and we want you to remember to always….. LIVE YOUR DREAMS TOO!
Talk with you soon and take care! Have a great end of 2017 and we’re looking forward to hearing about your adventures too!
Boss 101 Info Roundup
Out now on Steam!
Boss 101 Steam Store Page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/380920
Please check out the Steam Store if you would be so kind!