Update from the Nebula

Yesterday, I spent 14 hours implementing two new features in my iPhone game, Nebula Rescue. One is a statistics screen, where you can track your averages and totals, and secondly a series of 20 achievements that can be unlocked while playing the game.

This is the first update to Nebula Rescue since its launch back in spring, and though I’m very excited about it, I’m not expecting a bump in sales for my efforts.

Designing games has taught me many things, among them that competition is insane in the marketplace – my other apps far outsell the game, in spite of being much simpler in nature.

Without proper marketing and a good deal of luck, indie games from an unknown developer such as myself are bound to drown in the constant flow of new apps. But this does not deter me. I make games because I love it. If just a handful of people like playing it, it was worth building.

The new update contains features (and a couple of bug fixes) that I’ve wanted to add since I first launched the game. As with any software project, there were things I deliberately put off until the update, just to get the game out and see how the reactions were. And though reactions have been nothing but positive, it still felt unfinished to me.

Finally, late last night Nebula Rescue 1.1 was submitted to the App Store for review, and I feel better.

I don’t think, as a solo game developer, you should ever design games with the primary goal of making money. Do it for the love of the genre, to have fun and for those fans who will share in your joy of the finished product (I’m super thankful for every person who tells me they’ve played it and had a good time). The same could be said for any other creative endeavor, whether you’re a musician, an actor or an artist.

We do it because we can’t not do it, and never mind the consequences.

2 Replies to “Update from the Nebula”

  1. Part of the reason I continue to work on tabletop RPGs, even though the money in it isn’t great, is because I love the blending of psychology, language, and gaming. Every project is an experiment on manipulating the mind and imagination, encouraging specific behaviors, and so on.

    That said, I gotta split hairs on one thing: your motives for designing don’t have to be your motives for publishing. If I make a game, I don’t have to publish it. And if I do release it, whether I charge for it or not shows some of my motive. If I release something for free, I largely want to throw it out in the world and see what happens, but otherwise be done with it.

    But if I publish and put a price tag on my game, then profit motive becomes a significant factor — based on the thought of “if I’m going to deal with all the crap around taxes and accounting for this thing, I’m going to make sure it’s worth that time and effort I could be spending elsewhere.” (Granted, that’s not much out of the way since I’m already a freelancer, but it’s still there.)

    So I design recreationally, sometimes thinking “maybe I could publish this” but usually just happy to see where the design takes me.

    – Ryan

    1. I agree that motives for making something (a game, a song, a painting, whatever) can differ greatly from why we publish it. I have a tendency to want to put everything out into the world, at least if I actually finish it. Whether to put a price tag on it at all, is usually an afterthought. This is of course in relation to my personal projects – if a client is paying me to produce something, it’s an entirely different story.

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