A look back at 2017

2017 is almost over and it’s about time to have a review of how the year has gone. Let’s start by setting out what the year should be judged against.
I have a three-year plan to see if I can become a full-time developer writing wargames or for a new opportunity related to this area (wargames development) to present itself. Below is a “back of the napkin” outline of that plan.
  • Year one – get a game published
  • Year two – publish more games and get a track record
  • Year three – make enough money to be viable as a full-time vocation
Presently I have a full-time job and therefore can only work on this in my spare time.
So let’s start with some hard facts:
Games Published: 1
Platforms supported: 4 (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android)
Developer Blogs: 51
Times Blog read: 1884
NewsLetters sent: 1
Reviews: 1
Below is where I earned net income for my first game. iOS sales were a nice surprise for me. Google sales were a disappointment – I am not sure if I made it free that downloads would be much higher. I made a small profit from my first game. From what I read that’s a great achievement on its own.
PC still rules when it comes to selling games.
Below are the number of page views on steam for Kursk. The first peak was when I launched Beta and the second when I officially launched the game. Interestingly the Steam sales show only tiny spikes and yet sales were relatively good in those periods.
Behind those hard facts is a year-long list of things I have learned:
  • Blogging is easy when you have a genuine interest in the things you write about and don’t try and cater to a supposed audience. I have tied over the years to start a blog on various subjects because it seemed to be what everyone else was doing. Now I have found my niche. I write about things that interest me and its almost like a personal diary.
  • Writing code is probably only about 50% of actually publishing a game. I am constantly surprised at how much time I spend on things like research, working/speaking with my graphics artist, 3rd party contacts for localization, documentation, preparing for the launch of a game etc.
  • Finishing a game is really really hard. I have read this many times on other blogs and it’s an absolute truth. Test, fix, test, fix and repeat. It’s truly grueling!
  • People are generous, kind and helpful. I have had people reach out to me offering to test my games, suggest improvements, respond to my blogs with their own experiences, write emails just thanking me for writing the game and the list goes on. Thank you – they are the ones who motivate me to continue.
  • Localisation needs to be planned and is time-consuming. I have yet to see the results from my labors on preparing my games for localization in 5 other languages. I hope the investment will pay off eventually.
  • Technical skills have increased in areas such as Photoshop, InDesign, Code Management, Java, Packaging, AI and others
I have also learned about things I need to improve on next year:
  • Plan, sketch and commit to paper the game before starting coding. Up until now I roughly plan out the game in my head then go to it.
  • Marketing… I either need (free) help or I need to learn a lot more to make this effective.
  • Social Media – I need to be a lot more active in 2018 on things like Twitter and Facebook.
  • Walk don’t run. I am doing too much at the same time because I know it needs doing when the reality is I am under no real time pressure.
  • Stay focused. I allowed myself to get diverted working on things that provided no real benefit.
  • Staying healthy and spending time with my family is important. I have got better with this as the year has gone on but I can improve more.
Personally year one has been a success. I published a game, made a little money, learned a lot and have a solid foundation for year two.
Scorecard: So far so good

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