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Super Impeachment Rampage postmortem
Our team always used to read game postmortems, and we find it a great tool to make a kind of report of the work after finished, helping a lot to see what went right and wrong to prevent to make the same mistakes on the next projects. After months of our first published game being launch, we found time to make our own postmortem, hoping that this piece of writing will be able to help us the next time (and hopefully other developers too).
Just to be more understandable, our Studio is based in the state of Minas Gerais/Brazil and we are a team of two in the core and other collaborators here & around the world. Our country went through a political impeachment process of the president last year, and our game was made in the beggining of this process. Despite all the complicate stuff involved, we had the idea to make a rampage game following the mechanics of the recently launched Leo diCaprio's Red Carpet Rampage but with the scenario of the political confusion our country was at. It sort of seemed to us like it was literally a rampage going on, with an extremely accelerated process, politics running for their lifes and chosing sides. It was, indeed tense times for our people, and untill today it has left the entire country in a very confusing place.
After having the idea, we sat down and started immediately, starting a game jam that went for the next 19 days and nights ( Even though at the beggining we strongly believed that we would take around 3-4 days to finish the game - very naive us both!).
What went right
As it was our first game ever made, today we can consider that we did a lot right. We divide the functions like this: one of us works monstly in the engine (we use Unreal) programming, importing, and setting up; and the other makes all the art, character animation, backgrounds and external stuff. The mechanics and core of the game we decide together. In a way, we still working like this nowadays (the only thing changed is that both of us now works in the engine to be able to divide more the hard work), and it functions very well for our team. The dinamic of the work was one of the best parts because each one was working with what liked the most and was best at.
We used the simpler analytics from Google, what gave us very accurate numbers after the launch. Today we know how many people played the game&where they were from. This was a nice step for our first project, and now we are using more deep analytics that will help even more to collect good and useful data:
As we can see in the analytics page, we had over 400k page views and almost 290k play sessions. The game drew a lot of attention of the people and we gave a lot of interviews to main newspapers, sites and blogs. And now we have these numbers to know how many people played/accessed the page.
Before publishing the game we consulted a friend's law firm, because it involved Image Rights of public people that could bring us some trouble later. That was a great decision because after talking to the lawyers (it's a nice company focused on startup services) we decided not to monetize the game. That gave us safety to keep creating and developing without being afraid of being sued later.
The simplicity of the game with a subject that people were seeing and talking about everyday: that was what made it a hit. We were able to finish the game while the impeachment process was still happening, which was really important timing (we actually ran to finish the game before the final voting was made). If we decided to make a more complex game we probably wouldn't have finished it in time and lost the timing of the subject.
People actually found a reflief in the game: that subject was really tense and somehow we could make a game about it that was fun without being ironic. We never intended to criticize the situation, or to make fun of it, we just wanted to give people a different vision of the whole thing, without picking sides. A vision of the people that were numb facing the situation. The choice to make it neutral was a great one, because everyone that played it ended up having fun and not being inflamed about political positions and opinions. We actually never had any kind of political attack after it, only compliments and nice comments (thanks everyone!)
The greatest thing ever to us was seeing the feedback of the people that played it: friends tagging others in the facebook page, commenting, messages we received and specially for us the youtube gameplays that were awesome! It's the best thing to see people interacting with something you made, laughing and having a good time.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Version control. That's something we didn't know about before Super Impeachment and turned out to be an essential tool for us after it. We made the entire game without using version control, so in a moment about 95% of the development, when the game was almost ready, it suffered a main crash and wouldn't function anymore. Our luck (and this game exists today only because of this luck) was that a new version of Unreal was launched in the same week, and after updating the game came back. But never again we will work without version control!
Something we never had experienced before was the mixed feelings of anxiety & frustration that the process of development can cause. Until today it's a hard thing for us to deal, mainly with bigger projects. Each one of us was used to work as freelancers, so most part of the work was short-term, and the results were also seen faster than a game. The process wasn't really long doing Super Impeachment, and later we worked months and months in other project, but as it was our first time we didn't have a real prediction about how many time it would take us. We innocently thought it would take us about 3-4 days, but today we laugh at our past us. It obviously took a lot longer than that, and it was really fast because we chose to do almost a remake of an already existing mechanics (sparing us of a huge part of the process). As it was a news games and relied a lot on the timing, after two weeks we started to be concerned and stressed out of the game losing its purpose if we took more time. But I guess it's a feeling to get used to, and to keep in mind of doing your best without giving your life and health if things are not going as planned. It actually made us more mature, and each time helps more and more to the next.