One trap I always walk into, despite knowing better, is focusing on the gold master of the game and seeing it as some kind of finish line. However, once you’ve submitted your game to be checked by the platform holders, the last check before you can put it up for sale, there is still a huge amount of work that needs doing.
During this time the platform holders do their own quality assurance and will report back to you any issues they might find. It is up to me, the developer, to fix as many of those issues as I can. It is no time to rest on your laurels, no matter how tempting that may be. After your own testing, after professional QA, you are prone to thinking it’s done and dusted, but as sure as eggs is eggs the platform holder will come across some issues everybody else will have missed. It’s all part of life’s rich pageantry.
What I should have done is consider this period a low-level crunch; to always be on stand-by to address and fix bugs and issues as they are reported, to speed up this last step of the process. Keep your work/development mindset going, don’t start winding down just yet.
It’s not something you, as a player, tend to think much about, but when you browse any digital storefront you will see a lot of art assets for each game. Trailers (more on that in a sec), screenshots, store banners, icons, etc. Someone has to make all these! Sure, screenshots can be captured by the publisher, who should also be in charge of creating the store page, but things like banners and icons are usually created by the developer. This is true for every digital storefront, from the Nintendo eShop to Steam, to Google Play, the Apple Appstore, and etc.
A banner here, an icon there, doesn’t sound too bad, but once you’ve seen every asset required listed in front of you in a spreadsheet, with dimensions and technical specifications you soon realise it isn’t a trivial task!
Creation of the trailer is often outsourced by the publisher. For Piczle Cross Adventure I had my own ideas, though, and did it by myself. It’s not just editing and graphical overlays, it also means capturing footage, designing the flow, editing music and sound effects. Luckily I have a background in audiovisual design. Even so, it’s a difficult job that is often done by specialists for a very good reason!
Public Relations and Marketing are usually handled by the publisher. That doesn’t mean the developer is entirely off the hook, though! From interviews to more materials (character art, logos, extra screenshots, etc.) to helping create art for online marketing, the marketing workload can often feel a little overwhelming.
It is a game development truism, stated by Tim Sweeney, that “the first 90% is always a lot easier than the second 90%”. After that comes the third 90%: all of the above. Though I am winding down a little – making a game is hard, energy-depleting work, I remain somewhat activated, tackling little tasks here and there as they crop up.
A word on Covid-19
This blog post might be an opportunity to address the pandemic and how it impacts Piczle Cross Adventure. As it stands, it shouldn’t. Word on a release date should be available soon, and then hopefully not long after it should actually be available in the eShop. Fingers crossed! If self-isolation remains in our lives for a few more months then I hope that at least Piczle Cross Adventure will be available to help keep people’s minds occupied a little.
Score itself has been operating as a virtual office for some time now, so very little has had to change here to deal with the Corona virus outbreak. I have also been extremely lucky that all outsourced work was handled and finalised before the pandemic hit, causing no extra delays to Piczle Cross Adventure’s release and putting no people in jeopardy for it.
These are scary times, for sure. I hope everybody will do whatever they can to keep themselves and others safe!