A mid-level game dev experiences and thoughts (exciting isn’t it?)

By July 25, 2014Games, News

Hello everyone!

I would like to share my experiences with all the new upcoming developers that will embark on this journey, since a lot of you asked me about my experiences in the indie game dev world.
That said, I’m not a great game developer or a skilled game programmer, but I think I represent the mid-level game dev.

I’ll start to talk about our latest released game Woodle Tree: Adventures and the work and effort it took to be able to release on Steam and earn money and experience. you can download it at this link http://store.steampowered.com/app/299460/

First of all, this is not my first game. I developed and released a lot of little experiments and concepts on various websites like Kongregate, Newgrounds, GameJolt etc.
Then, since those were just experiments, I decided to create something more complex and unique.

I first started to develop this game with a friend in XNA, but it took a lot of time to get to this level (even if he is a skilled programmer):


Woodle Tree

First experiment with MIcrosoft XNA.


We were able to create a first alpha version of the game with just the main protagonist (Woodle) moving in the evironment.

But then my friend decided to quit, so I had to continue on my own with the project.
That’s why I the decided to continue with Unity3D and its unbelievably easy to use GUI.

It took few days to realize what me and my friend were able to produce in one month, and that’s the final result
(my girlfriend Giulia Airoldi, realized the character concepts):


Woodle Tree Adventures

Final version of the game in Unity3D


Obviously this was just the beginning, it took me some months to finish the first version of the game.
I’m quite happy with the final result, even if it’s pretty simple in terms of gameplay mechanics and graphic design, I think it’s a nice and believable world!

So the first version of the game was finally completed, and I decided to publish it, first on Desura
(http://www.desura.com/games/woodle-tree) and then on other small websites like IndieCity and others.
I have to say that in terms of earnings it was pretty low with about 200 units sold (about 400$ earned), but it was really helpful to gain the first feedback on the game.

I had some proposals by a few bundle websites like Build a Bundle (https://groupees.com/bab6) and Indiebundle that gave me some more earnings, more people playing it and as a result, more feedback. It surely helped a lot to give me the thrust in the project and continue the development.

That’s when I decided to try with Greenlight (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=132883187) an initiative that Steam provides to be able to publish your game, but you need a lot of votes to be “Greenlit”. Infact it took me a whole year to be accepted and to be be able to publish my game on Steam, with 9000 votes from the Steam users.

In October 2013, I decided to partecipate to my first event with my girlfriend, here is a pic!



Games Week event in Milan


It was a great experience, that showed me the interest that gamers had in the game. A lot of people liked my creation, and that gave me the boost to continue with the development of it. That’s why we decided to create the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WoodleTree (now with almost 2000 likes).
Creating the Facebook page really helped us to understand who liked it and keep the players updated on the game.

The feedback we received, helped me to improve the game mechanics and fix a lot of bugs… Now I was able to publish a decent version of the game on Steam.



The new shiny cover of the game


The experience with Steam was really great, with 2500 copies sold in the first month. But marketing a game is a really hard job: I spent the first two weeks sending emails to press, youtubers and bloggers, because without this we couldn’t sell all these copies.

The community on Steam is awesome, I received more feedback on the game than ever, thanks to the discussion section on the game in the Steam group:
http://steamcommunity.com/app/299460/discussions/ and the screenshot section, where gamers can post images of the actual game while they’re playing.

That allowed me to fix a lot of bugs that I wasn’t aware of, and to add some features like a co-op mode, more levels and unlockable items.


Screenshot 2014-06-07 02.16.05

Featured on Steam!


Now I’m working on a new game that I plan to finish in the next few months.
My suggestions to the other indie game devs out there is to take the whole process of development not too dramatically. I know it’s really difficult to maintain constancy on the game development, but if you have passion, the whole process will be fun and you’ll learn a lot.

I hope that this post will inspire you and help other game developers to follow their paths!


The Humble Bundle Team asked me if I wanted to include my game in one of their Flash Bundles (so cute)!
It was a great honor to be part of this bundle, and so I accepted. The bundle sold a total 18202 copies, with a total of 47.000$ earned!



After few months on Steam (the game was released in June, now it’s december) the game sold a total of 4000 copies + 1000 copies during the Steam sales, with a discount of 75%.
I have to say that I’m quite happy with how things went on Steam and that it gave me the push to continue the development of new games.
Overall (with Steam sales and bundles) I earn approximately 17.000$ and the development lasted for approximately 16 month (development + advertising).

I hope this post inspired you and will help future game developers with their games!
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at : fabioferrara1989@gmail.com.