Large-Scale Real-Time Strategy (RTS) for the iPad & iPhone 

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The Motivation

Published on May 29, 2012 by

Before going more into other details, let’s briefly talk about the motivation to develop your own game. I mean, game development is not just fun, it is also means going through a lot of trouble to come up with a good game.

The basic question is: is making this game worth my time? After all, (life-)time is a limited resource, you better spend it on something important.

Different people have different motivations why they are developing games. Some are attracted by the ever-lasting rumour that making a game will make them rich. A few success stories, mostly on Apple’s AppStore, have attracted many people trying to make a fortune (a lot of time by making a bad clone of other successful mobile games).

Let’s get realistic, the chance of getting rich from your game is extremely low. If that’s your motivation, you better reconsider. It is hard to keep motivation up if for months, you won’t see any money but have to keep your spirits high or you’ll abandon your project before it’s done.

Or you end up releasing a “greedy” game, i.e. a game without enough playtesting which ultimately means unpolished work (and probably bad reception).

The Inner Urge

I have often wondered myself why I actually am doing this. It is a time consuming hobby, it can get frustrating, and it is not exactly easy either.

I’ve found that somehow, I have an inner urge to develop games. These are the reasons driving me:

Self Expression
A game gives you the opportunity for self-expression you often don’t have in your “normal” life. It is a wonderful experience shaping a medium such that the experience you want it to provide gets real.
In my daytime job, I’m not in the creative business. While you sometimes need to find “creative solutions” in every demanding job, it’s not what I really call creativity. Man has an inner need to be creative (or at least I have). Making a game let’s me be creative in life which is very satisfying.
Many people who know me personally have assumed that this is my main driving factor. It is true that I like coding and it is also a fact that I don’t get to code in my professional life anymore because they have more important things for me to do. I tend to think of myself as a very skilled developer and it is a shame wasting such talent.
Don’t get me wrong, when you are developing your own game, you don’t find the time to play a lot of games. And if you do, it is for inspiration more than anything else. When it comes to your own game, you’re going to test it to oblivion and testing is not playing, not even close. Still, games are a wonderful thing (ask the kids) and working on one is great, too.
Historic Reasons
I’ve already been developing games when I was a kid. As a teenager, I was writing games on C64 and Amigas. It took forever to make one since the machines were so weak so I was essentially developing them in Assembler and had to set every bit of the gfx hardware myself. I stopped doing so at some point because it was extremely hard to distribute your game (the www did not even exist in its current form). But now, with good distributions channels and powerful technologies (like OpenGL), things look a lot better and I’m back.
It’s not high up in my list but I’m no fool: I’ll gladly take any money I get from the app development. Ultimately, we always use figures to measure all kinds of things in life and the success of a game is proportional to the money it made. However, I do not optimize the games for monetization. I’m pretty sure my current project wouldn’t have made it through our company’s decision boards due to the nature of the AppStore: quality games mean long development cycle which means high risk due to potential lack of exposure.

So, the inner urge is there and pushing me and who am I to ignore it.

What this means for my current Game Project

One of the reasons why I was daring to start developing my new game is: it seems like I got to develop one anyway. If I’m not developing that one I’d have to search for another idea so I may as well do the one I find intriguing, even if it takes some time. Basically, since the journey is the reward, I may as well go on a longer journey.

The Financial Side

Let’s be honest, as far as the business case is going, the game is going to be a financial disaster. đŸ™‚

Ontop of the money I’ll have to spend to cover aspects of game development I don’t have the skills for, if I’d sum up all the hours I’ve to pour in and then (virtually) pay myself the hourly rate of, say, a baby sitter then it will take like forever to break even.

RTS games are a niche and they are quite the opposite of what people often refer to as a casual game. Almost all successful titles on mobile devices are casual games, easily accessible, no learning curve, and cooperative. RTS games are quite the opposite, you need to learn the basics of an RTS game before you can enjoy it, it is therefore less accessible and more on the competitive side rather than cooperative.

I could probably do a casual game in a fraction of what it takes to make my complex RTS game, but frankly, I can’t bring myself to do so.

If the financial side of things would be in my focus, then I’d probably have to build a free-to-play game with purchasable in-game items. That’s where the money is. The problem is, I have no affinity to those types of games, I don’t want to play a game where you can buy a shiny new blue hat for your character for $0.99. I don’t want to go to a non-immersive world and collect my coins every day.

I wouldn’t be able to muster enough self-motivation to go the long way of developing a game that I wouldn’t even enjoy myself. So, I’m sticking with traditional games for the time being. Call me old-fashioned but my interest lies in what I refer to as real games. So I’m determined to make that one real.

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