The journey of making Time Turner: A game that was published
Saurabh Parikh is a part time indie game developer who is currently pursuing B.Tech from IIT Delhi. He made his first game when he was 16 years old and has a total experience of 4 years making games that were never published, until 18th August 2016 when Time Turner was launched on the Google Play Store. You can find him on Twitter.
I have always been passionate about making games for myself, never for the masses. I developed my first game in Codea, an IDE on the iPad that I used for almost 3 years. Codea is the perfect place to start for new game developers. It is simple and elegant but it lacks the power and flexibility that I was looking for.
In December 2015 I came across Unity3D 5. It was powerful, flexible, easy to learn, and more than important for a hobbyist like me, it was free. That is when I knew, this time the game will be published.
I had a fair bit of background building my own small games but none of them were games that did not already exist in the market. I wanted to contribute to the gaming society.
The feeling of creation is why you should make something new
When you have an idea it's important for it to be different, not because you want it to become popular but because you want a feeling of creating something new. That feeling will stick with you and push you to complete the project till the end.
The Learning Curve:
I had an experience in making relatively simple 2D games on Codea. But 3D was a completely new environment. My vacations in December is the time when I can give 8 hours a day for things I am passionate about. All that available time and the great tutorials by Unity was all that I needed to learn something new.
Learn when you have at least 2 hours to spare at a stretch
It is really important to sit down and let all that information flow into your head. Sitting for half an hour and expecting to learn is not realistic.
When I had the idea in mind, I started making the game, trying many variations before I ended up with what the game looks like. I experimented with 2D and then decided that 3D is the way to go. The third dimension allowed me to make more complicated puzzles. When I had the basic idea of what the game would be I distributed it among my friends, asked them what they thought about it.
If your friends think it's boring, it is boring
Most of them thought the idea was great. That was my first clue that this game was meant to be published!
You have the idea and people like it as well. Set a target. You will not progress anywhere without aiming for something. I knew I wanted the game to have a story, I wanted the puzzles to be challenging. I would rather have 10 mind boggling puzzles than 100 boring ones. I knew what I wanted.
Know what you want
By March 2016 I knew how many levels there would be in the game. I was still working on the story but that wasn't far from completion. Looking for inspiration from similar games like braid, chronotron, monument valley, portal was a great way to quickly wrap up with the design aspect of the game.
Mix and Match:
I was handling everything involved in the game besides music. There were days when I didn't feel like designing new puzzles or working in Unity at all. On those days I would design the art in Photoshop or create animations in blender.
Try something new when one thing becomes boring
Those are the days which lead to the looks of the game today. There was a lot of trial and error, many variations, many days that were put into making the game look as good as I want it to be.
One of the most important things that made this game possible was winning Microsoft Code.Fun.Do that was organized in my college. Winning that gave us entry to two other competitions which we ended up winning as well, the Microsoft Imagine Cup, India and Microsoft Code.Fun.Do Finalist forum. This was the second clue that this game was meant to be published!
Participate in competitions and show your game to the world
Participating in competitions gives you targets that must be achieved. It also provides press coverage and user feedback, both of which is always good. Whenever I felt that I was slowing down, I would set achievable targets on my own or start working on something new.
Even though I had hundreds of ideas that would have been amazing if they were in the game, it is important to finish the project, to show it to the whole world.
Just publish it!
I was at a point where the game was great but could have been way better if I would have extended the project for three more months. But I believe it's better to be good and on time rather than late and perfect. Most important of all: