Technology selection risks
So much is written and said about how it is now feasible for a single-person or micro team indie studio to exist these days, what with digital distribution, rapid/easy dev tools and a much more diverse player audience. Indeed it is so celebrated I recently asked on Twitter as to whether being an indie game developer is the new ‘being in a band’?
The flip side of this celebration if the virtues of being an indie is that you are far more at risk from external factors that you cannot possibly predict or plan for. This happened to me just today.
We recently got a verbal OK on a project for a local client. I cannot disclose anything about the client or the project but I can say that I had proposed a multi-platform game (iOS and Android), that had asynchronous competitive multi-player and a bunch of cloud features. This was very achievable (note ‘was’) due to the dev tools we prefer to use; Corona SDK and their recently released cloud gaming services.
The Corona Cloud services were pretty much unique as they enabled developers to quickly set up and integrate not only leaderboards and achievements but to have a single, cross-platform sign-in, cross-platform asynch play and cloud synching, CMS and analytics all from a single application build process. Apple’s Game Centre and Google Play Services offer most of this but not in a cross-platform way. Developers need to create two versions of their games and the feature sets manifest in very different ways meaning a different user experience depending on whether you are an iOS or Android device user. Cross-platform asynchronous competitive gameplay requires a proprietary (hence costly) approach.
It was with much angst, therefore, when I received an email from Corona Lab’s COO this morning informing me that they have decided to pull their new cloud services permanently. Clearly they recognized that they couldn’t deliver the vision that they had promised and they had taken then commendable decision to own up to that, receive a lot of flak now but avoid much more pain for them and their developer community in the future.
However, I now need to deliver on the project proposal that I promised, in the same time frame and for the same budget but know, now, that will require significantly more effort on my part.
Making technology and service provision choices is never easy irrespective of your scale but for a micro studio, where your options are probably already limited by lack of free capital, getting those decisions right is even more critical.