Almost two years have passed from the release of our first game, “A Matter of Caos“, and I wanted to say something about my experience during this years: I’ll publish some small articles about my experiences in making games. It would be nice if this articles could be useful to other people, helping them to avoid the mistakes we made, but this is not the primary purpose of this articles series: it’s more like my journey log on the hardships and satisfactions of being a game developer. During this period I’ll also try to improve my written English skills, so I want to apologize for all the grammar errors that I’ll surely insert into those articles.

Starting our journey

I always wanted to be a game developer, and I always wanted to lead my own company, but when I started this adventure I was full of uncertainties:  I left my full time job as IT consultant, I had no professional experience in game development and, to reduce the cost of living, I returned to live in my small hometown in the South of Italy, after almost five years, during which I lived first in Milan and then in Bologna, two very beautiful and dynamic cities.

Me and my partner and lifelong friend, Eli, were full of expectations and ideas, but we were low on budget (we had just enough money to live and pay rent and bills for a limited time): we weren’t able to pay a professional artist so Eli (who at least knew how to use a pencil) took the resposability to make some, not totally ugly, graphics. He was also in charge to make all the storywriting: he’s a writer and he’s very talented, with an unlimited imagination. To make the thing clear: he’s able to run (as a master) an eight/twelve hours role playing game session, just improvising it, and he’s always able to give a perfect sense to all the events.
On the other side, I was responsible of all the technical and administrative tasks: togheter we would be the “almost perfect” game designer.

As an IT consultant and Computer Engineer, I had some knowlodge in software project management and development, and I was fascinated about the Lean and Agile methodologies; so, even if we were only two of us, I wanted to start building a good development process for the future (and to give us a work mantra to respect), based on the ideas in the “Kanban” development process. I’m a result oriented person,  and I also loved to read “The Lean Startup” book: the phylosophy to make a “minimum viable product” and start collecting real data, on real players, to reduce the feedback cycle, improving our games immediatly, was enlightening: we wanted to learn things about game development and the related market as soon as we can, and following this principles was the best way to do it!This way, I prepared the basics of our development process that helped us a lot and that we’re still using (adjusting it a little when needed): it makes us learn fast and gives us a lot of feedback on the time we need to complete different type of tasks; this way, after each game we make, we improve our capacity to estimate taks and to prevent unforeseen events. It also gave us the possibility to learn by doing, and improve our technology with every game we made, taking advantage of the early feedback of our players.

While I was working as IT consultant and C# developer, I already had developed some small prototypes with Unity 3D: our objective was (and still is) to develop great games for PC, so I needed to master a powerful, versatile and not expensive technology. Unity was the perfect choice because I already had an excellent knowledge of the C# language and the .Net library, I just needed to learn more about Unity.

At this point, we had a methodology to follow and a technology to use, so we needed to think of a game we can develop fast and release it on a platform that could give us the best visibility and user feedback. At this stage we didn’t care about making money, we just wanted to learn by doing, entertain some players, and collect as much data and feedback as possible!

We ended up developing (in three weeks) a simple point and click adventure game, and we released it on Kongregate: I’ll tell you more on this in the next article!

Cheers and keep having fun!

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Luca Porrino

Luca was raised by an engineers tribe, which teach him to function like a clockwork device. After years of research, he finally developed a mechanical brain, and he's now part of the Matrix. Also, he practices medieval swordfighting and doesn't give up a chance to tell it to everyone he meets. He's the functional brain of the Expera Game Studio.

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