The Journey of Ace
Published 2 years ago
How 'Code Break: Ace' Came To Be

In the Beginning

Oneshot Games was formed by gamers who wanted to provide fun and exciting games for other gamers. It is a very small studio, but we are all dedicated to the same cause. Game development is something that we are doing on the side, with the hope that one day we can become full time game developers. With the formation of Oneshot Games, we could see our dreams forming on the horizon, and it was exciting.
When we began our journey as a company back in 2013, we started working on a game concept that one of our developers had when he was in college. We liked the idea, so we ran with it. We immediately started creating assets, documents, and initial code for the game. We were excited to get started. We all loved the idea of making games. The fun was just beginning.

Change of Direction

With our excitement acting as the wind under our wings, we took off. Things were going really well. In fact, you could say they were going too well. As our excitement increased, so did our ideas. We quickly found that our ideas were taking over and scope creep set in. The ideas we had initially thought of were buried under a mound of seemingly better ideas. Don’t get me wrong, the ideas were great, but more than what we originally planned for. As we tried to hit this ever-moving target, we decided to take a step back and do something a little simpler while we get our bearings on this game. In mid-2014, we decided to create a mobile app.

Going Mobile

The idea behind switching to a mobile app was to get a game out there under the company name. We just wanted to publish a game for people to enjoy. With this in mind, we started coming up with the idea that would become Code Break: Ace. Our plan was to create a small app that we could quickly finish and publish. We wanted to take the next couple of months and finish this game by the end of 2014.

The Journey

Learning from the Past

One thing we did differently with this game was to come up with as many of the the ideas at the beginning of the project as we could. We spent some time envisioning what we wanted and documenting all of the possibilities. It helped that the scope of this game was significantly smaller than the previous one. We had a pretty good idea as to what we wanted this game to be.

Discovering a Universe

We had always wanted to create a universe in which all of our games would live. We started creating that universe with Code Break. Ace became the main character for this game and one of many for our universe. We started writing backstories for the various entities that would live in this universe and, in particular, in Code Break.

Watch for Falling Rocks

To our surprise and frustration, the end of 2014 came and went, and we still didn’t have a game out. What was supposed to be a quick and easy mobile app started dragging on for longer than we wanted. Keep in mind that we are all doing our game development on the side, so our time available to work on Code Break was already limited. Below were some other factors that reduced our time available for development.

Information Overload

As I mentioned before, we did a lot of discovery work up front to figure out what we wanted to have in Code Break. As we started going and time flew by, we discovered that we had too many ideas. We needed to scale back the scope of this game so we could release it.

Oh Baby

In 2015, there were 3 of us that had pregnant wives that needed extra attention. I am not saying that having a pregnant wife is bad, but for a small team like ours, this additional time commitment adds up. We ended up having 3 babies born in the beginning of 2016.

Employee Shuffle

During both 2014 and 2015, we went through some personnel changes. We had people jumping on the project and others dropping off. By the beginning of 2015, we ended up losing everyone except the core team that we originally started with. This adding and subtracting of people made it difficult to get commitments on work.

Moving on Up

In late Summer of 2015, our lead designer moved to a different location. This isn’t a bad thing, but it introduced a new dynamic to the team that we weren’t anticipating. Being able to have impromptu game discussions with each other on car rides, at lunch, or during other times we were together was somewhat lost.

Climbing over Roadblocks

With all of the struggles we faced during 2015, we found ways to overcome them. We cut out the components of the game that weren’t absolutely required. They were “nice to have” items, but they weren’t part of the core gameplay. We wanted to have dialog in the game that would introduce the universe all our games would be set in, but we found that the game could work without that.
Some of us learned to type with one hand while holding a sleeping baby. Others learned to code and rock a bassinet with a foot at the same time. We had to learn how to better balance our work and family responsibilities with our game development.
When the dust settled and only the core team remained, we had to do a better job at prioritizing our remaining work. Some of us had to cross over and do work that we had never done before. We found ways to work as a team better and become more organized. We started meeting more frequently towards the end of the project, which helped us stay on target for our release.
Now that we weren’t always in the same location, we had to find ways to keep communication going between the team. Text and instant messaging because an important means of communication. Our meetings were now being done via video calls. Truth be told, this actually increased our productivity since we were able to focus more on the meeting and less on other things happening around us.

The Time Has Come

On May 28, 2016, Code Break: Ace was release, for free, to the app stores. We did it. We finished the game. We were able to finally get a game published under our name. It felt like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. We were no longer carrying around the reality that we hadn’t finished a game. Having completed this journey, and with Code Break under our belt, we immediately set off to work on the next game. With renewed confidence and understanding, we started the next journey. Again, we can see our dreams on the horizon. Again, we set out to pursue a passion. We can’t wait to bring you the next piece of the universe we have been dreaming of for years.
Oneshot Games