Last year was contacted by a person from idevgames to write a postmortem about my game Magic Stones. Since over 1 year has passed already and he didn’t post anything in his site, I thought to post the postmortem in my blog, so at least I didn’t waste my time writing it and maybe someone could find it interesting, who knows.
Here it goes – enjoy it!
I always liked the idea of making a fantasy-card game, so I started to outline the basic idea on a piece of paper. Yes planning was essential in this kind of game, I knew it from the start (and luckily I did it).
I decided to base everything on celtic mythology, so I first started to do some research both in local library and also on the net. Found the celtic runes and thought to assign to each one of them a spell or a summoned avatar in the game. I divided the runes into 4 elements (the classic air, water, fire and earth) even if their original meaning is a bit different (but hey is just a game!).
So after sketching out the general features, statistics, skills, creatures, background story, etc of the game, I put all those numbers together in a spreadsheet page.
Then had to solve a big problem, to make the graphic of such a game, and found in Poser a very good solution. Bought several ready-made 3d models, and after several weeks spent on various renderings, I had the basic 48 avatars ready (20 avatars for the 4 elements plus many neutral/evil ones).
I added a roleplaying element to the game, so that in addition to your â€œdeck of cardâ€ you had also an in-game alter-ego, with an inventory of items that could affect your power and a set of basic skills that would influence the game in general.
I used xCode and a very simple but really powerful 2d programming API called PTK (website http://www.phelios.com/ptk) that I had already used in all my previous games with great success.
As I already said, for graphics I used mostly Poser 5/6 for the monsters, characters, etc and photoshop to design the interface of the game.
For the music I just bought royalty-free music from one of the many online stores.
What went right
The game had since its launch a good group of loyal followers. This maybe also because I decided, shortly after I released version 1.0, to add â€œbonus packâ€ or â€œexpansion packsâ€ with new game features and new avatars/quests, completely free for registered users. This was both a hard move (once I had announced it, I couldn’t change my mind) but also a winning one because it helped greatly to improve customers loyalty and is keeping my game always â€œon the newsâ€ thanks to those frequent updates (about every 2-3 months usually).
What went wrong
Despite I had planned everything, as always happens in this sort of games, you’ll need to TEST TEST and TEST. When you make a simple match3 game, is hard to have bugs after hours of playing (because game mechanic is always the same). With this kind of game instead, I had many bugs in the initial version 1.0 because I didn’t took the time to test it properly since was too eager to release it (a mistake I will never repeat in any future games!).
I can say that it was both a very rewarding experience (got so many enthusiast email feedbacks!) but also very stressing. The day after release was working 10hours a day to fix all the bug and I had also a tight deadline to deliver the first expansion â€œThe Bone Lordâ€ in time for Christmas 2005. Keeping the game updated also is not so simple, since need to add more content like new art/sounds, and new gameplay elements. But overall I like this kind of games so in this case the passion plays an important role.