Post news RSS Diaries of the developer of the indie project Memory Lost. Difficulties we encountered

And so, our main problem is that we underestimated the amount of work ahead.

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If you are making a top-down shooter, but you want to use not just 3D graphics, but 3D in isometrics, you are enormously increasing the amount of work. And if your shooter is also a story shooter, where more than 180 pages of narrative and about 20 thousand words of dialogue are written, the implementation becomes more complicated at times.
Now, multiply that by the sheer amount of in-game events... and such a project becomes almost unbearable for the average indie team.

But even that wasn't enough for us. We have built the combat system around the relocation mechanic, which means that our character is any enemy that is encountered on the level. For development, this feature becomes fatal: you need to increase the number of animations used for each character at times ... and this is not to mention unique abilities,
which the player must receive in each new body!

It is not easy to balance the characteristics of the enemies and make you feel the difference when playing for different opponents. We have already implemented about forty different types of enemies, more than a hundred sliders for different parameters of AI behavior and three difficulty levels.

Not weak? But the game still has pumping and a karma system that affects the ending ...

…That's why we ended up digging in. Fun fact: today I have over 2,000 hours of Memory Lost played, and the game designer in charge of balance has over a thousand. But, despite all the difficulties, we are spurred on by obvious progress: after a huge number of playtests and balance changes, it's great to hear from the players,
that the project catches with the implementation of the idea and that it has a soul!

Such words are the best reward for any developer.

Further, difficulties followed in the process of organizing the work of the studio.

1. Remote work. Game development is a creative process (at least in our studio). And remote work, despite its undeniable convenience, sometimes makes it very difficult to exchange ideas and creatives in real time. Alas, Discord will not replace brainstorms with pizza in the negotiation;

2. Lack of budget for development / development on enthusiasm. Yes,
we have a small compensation for work, but it is significantly below the market. Yes, everyone in the team is extremely interested in the game. For us, this is not just a job - Memory Lost is our common brainchild, dear child! :) But, on the other hand, because of the weak financial base, discipline invariably suffers. This creates serious problems for the development process;

3. Perfectionism and constant editing of finished episodes. Of course, there is no limit to perfection - this approach obviously improved the quality of the product. But on the other hand, if you think about it, we already made three games instead of one, just removing the first two. It is very important to stop in time in the desire to improve your brainchild ... but sometimes it is so difficult!

What did we learn during the development of Memory Lost?

Spoiler: make games!
But seriously, the most important thing:

-experimentally found a comfortable and efficient development pipeline;

-understood the importance of pre-production and detailed game design of the document;

- raised the overall level of the team - some beginners have come a long way from green salags to experienced game development fighters :)

What didn't the team do?

We struggled to the last and continue to suffer with animations. There are over 3,000 animation assets in the game right now... and it's still not enough for the level we want to see in the final build. We are licking on motion capture (video capture technology), but so far it is too expensive for us.

Alas, even this will not solve the problem of animating non-humanoids - it requires manual painstaking work on each model. The amount of work is colossal, but there is absolutely not enough hands and money for this.

But among the problems that seemed to have enveloped us, there were bright moments.

Surprisingly, this is management and organization of tasks. We are greatly helped by an organized server in Discord for communication, a Jira-like task book and a version control system for codebases.

And finally, what can we advise indie developers?

Don't listen to anyone and go ahead. Every second will doubt your success, every first will dissuade you from development. But, as they say, "the road will be mastered by the walking one." If you really love what you do, then just do it!

Don't aim for something big right off the bat - try making a small game. Believe me
even in this option, your project will grow to a titanic scale :) But this way you will have much more chances to bring it to release from the start. Count only on your own strength. Consider publishers and investors as a nice bonus to your business plan. Definitely want to see more indie games
brought to release ... but not to the detriment of their well-being. Don't take out loans, don't borrow money for a release - focus on your resources. If they are not there, reduce the scale of development.

But in general, we are glad that despite all the difficulties that we have overcome, we can still make games. No matter what.
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