How a little team from South Africa learnt the hard way, eventually.
Three games. That’s how many attempts it took us to finally have a game that we can be truly proud of, at least in terms of overall design and polish that is. Hey, you know what they say, "Third time's the charm".
Tyd wag vir Niemand is, at least I personally feel, our finest game to date and it all came down to taking the crazy, trippy environments we like to create in all our games and creating a strong central gameplay mechanic that works in tandem with these weird environments we love so much.
Although we still have lots to learn and improve on, we can still make even better games thanks to the feedback of the community and learning all these little pitfalls one by one and filling them.
My name is Tiaan Gerber, Director of Skobbejak Games, a small 2-man studio located in Alberton, South Africa.
My friend, Alexander Ehlers, and I met way back in Pre-School (I’m 27 now, can you believe how fast time flies?) and we have always wanted to create video games. We started dabbling in map makers and mods for games such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D and Command & Conquer among others (I know, a bit mature for our age at the time, but we turned out okay, haha, mostly).
In High School we started working with the 3D Gamestudio A6 Middleware engine and while we learnt a lot, ultimately our school work kept us from putting all of our time into it. But after I completed university at the end of 2012, Alex and I realised that we weren’t going to get another chance to take on game development full-time again, so we fired up the Unity engine.
Fast forward to 2017, 3 games later and I feel I can finally say that we have a game that we can truly be proud of and I can definitely say it’s our most refined game to date, there's still some rough edges that I want to work out in some upcoming patches though and will also be adding VR support soon. I would also love to possibly add a Level Editor with Steam Workshop support.
We still have so much to learn though, we can still improve so much and we will keep striving to make our games even better in the future.
Tyd wag vir Niemand is an Abstract Adventure game that puts you in the role of a military rescue agent that gets transported to a realm between time and space by a mysterious machine.
Now trapped in this oddly beautiful but dangerous dimension, you must use your ability to slow down time in order to overcome timing-based environmental challenges such as deadly traps to avoid, platforms that need to be lined up to perform tricky jumps and many other challenges, to ultimately discover the mystery behind this ominous dimension that has entrapped you.
The title for the game is Afrikaans and translates to "Time waits for Nobody" and the whole game's mechanics and themes are built around this statement as, while the player has the ability to slow down and normalise time at will, the sense of urgency in the challenges isn’t diminished in any sense.
Tyd wag vir Niemand was released onto Steam on July 7 2017 for PC, Mac and Linux, with Xbox One and PS4 releases planned to go into development soon and hopefully a Nintendo Switch version in the near future.
Learning from past mistakes
I think everyone can agree that one of the most common pitfalls new devs make with their first game is that, they get a bit too ambitious a bit too quick, biting off more than they can chew. Yup, learnt that one the hard way. While we learnt so much from our development of our first game Vapour, after getting a little bit of a viral reaction with our first prototype of Vapour back in 2013, we fell for this very typical mistake.
This also led to our next big mistake, not finding a strong core design and mechanic that everything can be built around from the start. That’s another one we fell for, getting all giddy and wanting to add all the cool stuff, without thinking about getting one thing done first. While there are parts of Vapour: Part 1 that we are proud of, the game as a whole wasn’t polished enough and was buggy, most of these problems were fixed via patches but we couldn’t fix the faults with the underlying design. Overall, we know we could do better, if we just knew better.
Our second game 'n Verlore Verstand improved a lot on both of these mistakes and we were able to finish it much faster and made an overall more complete and cohesive experience with much less issues. We of course still had our technical issues to fix via updates but more importantly there was still that special little something missing from 'n Verlore Verstand's core that tied it all together and gave everything meaning, it was still a fun little experimental game to work on though, that taught us so much and I am still proud of what we’ve accomplished with it, I don’t regret a second working on the project.
This finally brings us to Tyd wag vir Niemand a game that we finally found a strong central core mechanic and design at the start of development and built everything around these core concepts of time control as well as manipulating weird, trippy environments, ultimately using this combination for unique platforming challenges and interesting little puzzles.
The last big hurdle, staring us in the eyes
Even though we feel like we are finally starting to cultivate the ability to make an at least decent game and our reviews and feedback for Tyd wag vir Niemand is great so far, we still have one huge mountain standing in our way, getting the word out for Tyd wag vir Niemand so that we can reach its intended audience.
As a small 2 man team, we really struggle to get the word out, we don’t have any resources or time for an extensive marketing campaign. All of our revenue goes towards keeping a roof over our heads and all of our time goes towards creating the games that our customers deserve.
The gaming industry is changing and growing at a rapid pace and I’m starting to realise now that’s another mistake we have to correct, paying more attention to interacting with the public and starting a dialog with both gamers and the industry as a whole, from talking to fans on twitter and forums, to going to expos and doing thorough public relations.
Of course that’s no easy feat for a small indie with limited resources and time, plus big dreams in their hearts.
However, that’s no reason to get discouraged either, we know that Tyd wag vir Niemand has potential, so we want to put in all our effort in pushing it to reach that potential, we can’t give up, with a little bit of help we know we can get Tyd wag vir Niemand in front of its intended audience.
Our future plans
Our immediate plans are to support Tyd wag vir Niemand and spread the word as well as refine it via future updates. We are also planning on bringing Tyd wag vir Niemand to Xbox One and PS4 soon and hopefully to Nintendo Switch in the near future.
Thank you for reading, I will try to post more articles about Tyd wag vir Niemand in the coming months as I get time, dissecting all the aspects of it while also giving more insight on our personal journey in the games industries and new lessons learnt.
You can check out Tyd wag vir Niemand on Steam here and if you want to chat with me and follow Skobbejak Games' escapades, you can follow us on Twitter. Finally, you can find more in-depth info on Tyd wag vir Niemand here.