In June of 2012, I launched my first game Math Control, an educational game to help kids learn math. I plan to keep posting about my game development experience and the overall process of building a game company.
If you are making iOS games and want to read more about my experience you can follow me on Twitter @cesarserna or sign up for my newsletter at the end of this post.
Below are five things I learned in the process of making my first game.
Everyone has a weak point right?
Be honest with yourself and understand what your weaknesses are. Start shoring up those weaknesses by reading EVERYTHING.
Don't have time, MAKE time!
Leave books by your bedside, on the dinner table, in the bathroom or by the tv remote!
Invest time in educating yourself, it's the best investment ever!
You say, "why should I learn about something I will hire someone else to do?"
My friend, in that question is your answer.
At some point you will need to hire someone to do what you CAN'T do.
"Fact is, you wont know how to spot a great asset when you see it, if you don't first understand what greatness should be or look like." - Cesar Serna
Have you been getting some of those emails or ads on how to make games without coding?
What if I told you a BILLION dollar company made the mistake of taking the easy route?
Yep, Facebook learned the hard way (Read: http://www.macrumors.com/2012/06/27/facebook-abandoning-html5-to-speed-up-ios-app/), to have the best performing app and thus happy customers, you always write code using the devices native language.
Look, you can keep looking for the easy way out, the difference between you and Facebook is that a BILLION dollars affords you the ability to make mistakes... Don't waste your time or money, be efficient.
Assuming that you want to make cool games and not make more Tic-Tac-Toe games, take the time to learn about Cocoa Touch / Objective C.
If you want to make games, check out Cocos2d: http://www.cocos2d-iphone.org/
And if you want to add some physics to your game, similar to Angry Birds, check out Box2d: http://box2d.org/
Are you waiting to tell people about your new App the day it comes out?
Then you are in for a huge up hill battle!
As of this writing, Tiny Wings 2 and Animal Mall by Trey Smith just launched.
What do they have in common?
Both started talking about their app releases months ahead of time.
Here is the teaser trailer for Tiny Wings, pretty damn creative if you ask me...
Another example of someone doing advanced marketing is Trey Smith (a well established internet marketer transitioning to game development), he has a huge email base of fans that are following his app empire building journey. Although his app has taken 9 months of development, he can now send out an email blast and make a blog post to reach thousands of interested developers and game players about his new game release.
Don't wait until your app is done, start planting the seeds of interest now!
Learn from my mistake, although I believe Math Control is a great educational math game, very few people even knew it existed when it launched!
Trust me, after reading all those books, hours and hours of coding, it hurts to say that!
Good enough is not worth the trouble, embarrassment and pain you will suffer later.
Never compromise your standards.
Even if you don't have the money now, its best to wait and save up to get the best team players available.
It's never about not having enough money... it's always about having the discipline to save enough money to hire the best team that meets your high standards.
The hourly or project rate you pay may seem high, but in the end will seem like pennies, you will feel confident that you put forth the very best.
That confidence will carry forward when marketing your game!
Unless you already have a thriving business, most of us have to work a job or existing business to fund game development.
I am no different, I am a contract coder by day and game developer by night.
Sleep, pfffttt, whatever... forget about that!
Burning the candle at both ends will run you ragged unless you set a schedule.
As the saying goes, "Mind Your Business", don't forget about what puts food on the table.
Keep a clear time schedule so that you can give work your full attention and game development your full attention.
Emails, Twitter and blogs have sucked away many of my days until I made a schedule.
Now, I have a day shift where I work only on client tasks and a night shift where I read blog posts, research and make games.
It's easy to get carried away with game development, after all it's lot's of fun!
Don't forget what puts food on the table!
Mind Your Business!