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  • Ship It Fast: Why We Developed A Tiny Game In 2 Months

    [01.31.19]
    - Jair McBain

  • Mistakes made and lessons learned

    • More design upfront = less wasted time on iteration required later

    • A short project means less time for marketing during development, which in turn means fewer people know that it's coming and are less willing to support you at launch

    • We didn't define the people we were making this for early enough or in enough detail, which meant we weren't sure how to market it until later in development

    • Set up UI scaling/ UI prefabs FIRST THING and don't deviate from this standard. This would have saved us a few days of UI fix ups mid way through development.

    • Test it on more people as early as possible. Regular feedback from a variety of people will make sure it is as clear and enjoyable to interact with as we can make it.

    • App size not optimised anywhere near as much as we could have, meaning wifi connection was suggested to download on launch (can't measure how much impact this had, but our impressions vs installs may point to this being a pretty big issue)

    What did we do right?

    • Set and maintained healthy and realistic expectations (didn't expect a financial return quickly, didn't expect a feature or media coverage, focused on collecting data as a tool to make better choices next time over all else)

    • Kept our core goals front and centre and used them as a lens through which we could validate all decision making

    • Polished to an acceptable level given our competition already in the market

    • Played to our strengths as individuals while pushing ourselves in areas we needed to develop skills in further

    • Communicated VERY openly and regularly as a duo, took our emotion out of the picture and approached every decision as logically as we could

    • Crunched very little and mostly maintained our regular routines of self-care during development

    • Approached every misstep as a learning opportunity, rather than an outright failure we needed to beat ourselves up about

    Main takeaways

    Going forward from Oshka we have learned a number of valuable lessons and are continuing to try new things and collect data as we go. It is our intention to share articles regarding this data and those lessons in the near future. Our main takeaways so far are:

    • Yes, we can create and ship a fairly polished game in 2 months on iOS

    • No, our organic reach as a brand new studio is not enough to get us in front of enough people to sustain us/ carry us to a wider audience

    • Without an audience to launch to, a feature and a good amount of media coverage is almost 100% necessary unless your game is VERY remarkable/ has particular viral potential (mechanically or aesthetically) or is incredibly lucky

    • 2 months dev time makes it hard to have meaningful marketing content to share ahead of launch unless you specifically plan for it (we will next time!)

    • Opt-in video advertising is only viable if you have a HUGE volume of players (100,000+ as a minimum with low player retention and fairly unoptimised ECPM)

    Ultimately everything that has come out of Oshka so far has reflected exactly why we embarked on the project in the first place. We set out to develop and ship a game in 2 months because we wanted to answer some fundamental questions on how we might go about being a sustainable mobile development studio in 2018.

    We knew we wouldn't find out what we didn't know until we had put ourselves through our paces and we'd rather do that on something small than on a project we'd poured our heart and soul into for 6 months or more. Humans have a tendency to be terrible advice takers and despite having heard a number of warnings about the very mistakes we made/ lessons we learned previously, it only really hits home when you go through it yourself.

    We are much better off having shipped Oshka. We have way more information than we did a few months ago, we understand first hand the value of a marketing first approach and most of all, we know we're certainly capable of shipping a polished game in 2 months. If you're a new team looking to validate the market, a business model or simply your own abilities, I highly recommend taking a similar approach.

    This article was originally featured on Blog Likely the official blog of Moth Likely.

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