The Experiences of a Spare Time Game Developer

Jyri Kilpeläinen is the Finnish game developer behind the two Android and iOS games “Super Line Rush” and “Mystic Marbles”, which has received nearly 200.000 downloads in total. He has been developing games since 2010 and will soon release his third game, Tiltagon, in collaboration with his wife, Piia.

 

We talked with Jyri about his experiences with being a spare time game developer who also has a full-time job to see to, and what the advantages and disadvantages of developing games in your spare time may be.

For Jyri, being able to go fulltime on game development would be a dream come true. Realistically, however, certain financial restrictions keep him and many others from going fulltime on their game development dreams.

“The main reason we haven’t established a game company yet is not the lack of passion, skills or ideas: it’s plain and simply money. We have two young daughters and a mortgage so there are bills to pay, clothes to buy and mouths to feed.”

jyri

Jyri Kilpeläinen, developer of Tiltagon

And although Super Line Rush and Mystic Marbles have made some money, it is not enough for both Jyri and his wife to quit their day jobs and go full time indie.

On the flipside, the most apparent advantage of developing games in your spare time is that you can start with figuratively no risk except losing some time. Jyri does warn, however, that if your plan is to get funding from an investor or business angel, it will be wise to at least gather a decent team. In his own experience, a team of 2 simply isn’t enough.

 

“… with a team of 2, I believe we are too small and un-experienced in the eyes of an investor or a business angel.”, Jyri explains.

 

In terms of practical advice, Jyri mentions that he does most of the development himself, but that music and audio is something he outsources. Spare time game developers should consider what their strengths are, and then outsource what they do not know how to do. This advice also applies to many fulltime game developers, but especially for spare time developers with limited work hours available each day, it is important to cut down on time where possible.

“In Mystic Marbles I ended up working with Whitaker Trebella, a talented indie game developer / musician. He is the guy behind games Pivvot and Polymer and he has made music to numerous games such as Super Stickman Golf and Nimble Quest. In Super Line Rush I ended up using stock music but for our next games I would love to work again with some musicians.”

 

For Jyri, developing Mystic Marbles took 9 months full time plus 2 months of spare time work. Developing the game was at times a very stressful affair, and when it turned out to be a commercial failure, Jyri realized that working on smaller and simpler games is probably wiser. Such games take less time to develop, and therefore lowers the potential loss if the game becomes a commercial failure.

IMG_0028“So at the moment our focus is to make smaller, pick-up-and-play games and release them on as many channels as possible.”, Jyri explains.

Super Line Rush took way less time to develop, and Jyri emphasizes that the time saved on the development, should instead be spent on getting the game on as many platforms as possible! Especially the less popular and known channels are severely underrated in his opinion.

“Super Line Rush also taught us that if you are releasing an Android game, you should release the game not only on Google Play but also on 3rd party Android stores like Aptoide, Yandex and Mobango.”. The biggest and often overlooked advantage, Jyri continues, is that “They can provide lots of additional downloads and it can be easier to get you game featured there.”

 

In the end,  Jyri’s most important advice is for spare time game developers to keep focused! Game development has its ups and downs, and the downs are when the grass starts to seem greener on the other side of the fence. But when you start a project, you should always release it in some form, Jyri says.

“You will most likely get awesome game ideas during the development and you might be tempted to cancel the current project to start a new one. I strongly recommend to not do this. In my opinion, you should focus on one project at a time and release it before starting a new one. To me, it brings things to a closure and sends a clear message that this team can deliver and finish what they’ve started.”

 

Do you have any spare time game developments tips to share? Feel free to do so in the comments section below!

Authors
Sune Thorsen

Sune is not only a gamer and writer who wishes his keyboard-typing-speed would translate directly into Nintendo 64 controller agility, but also the co-founder and CEO of NordicGameBits.

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