Luca Redwood speaks to TPG about his RPG/puzzle hybrid title, 10000000. You will learn how the blockbuster iOS game made its way to the PC, the highs and lows of being an indie dev plus much more.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of 10000000.
So I’m Luca. I worked on 10000000 for about a year of evenings and weekends while I was still at my day job, I did the design art and code, and my wife did a bunch of testing. I also had a lot of tester friends that really helped. It really took off enough that I could afford to take a risk and quit my day job to make games, so things are good.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
I think my first game was in QBasic back when I was 11/12, I’ve always been programming games since then. I’ve never done it commercially. I couldn’t find anybody that would hire me, So I’ve just been making games on my own.
Where did the idea for 10000000 come from?
It was a game I wanted to play, I found I had shorter and shorter amounts of time to set aside for gaming once I was a grown up, So I wanted a game that still had the progression I liked, but divided into shorter sessions
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing 10000000?
The hardest thing was just learning to be OK and honest with myself: Because I was spending all my free time doing this, it was really heartbreaking to spend a bunch of weekends on a feature and then have to say “actually, that’s not very much fun” and take it away.
In its current form, how close is 10000000 to your initial vision?
Unrecognizable. I think this is just probably because I’m not a very good game designer. I tend to have a hundred ideas, fall in love with all of them, implement them and then find out that they aren’t as good as I imagined. My process tends to be picking the one thing out of a hundred that felt right and repeating.
Some devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for 10000000 and if you faced a similar challenge.
Oh boy, This. It was a real challenge. 10000000 was developed first for PC, but not released, and then ported to iOS. It should have been simple to do the PC release but the balance of touch vs mouse made lots of tiny differences. I must have played through the game a few hundred times trying to get the right feel, and all the testers were familiar with the game too. I was really worried that the balance would be off, but looking at the community hub on Steam it seems to be working out.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring 10000000 would run on the various PC system configurations?
The 2D raster point-filtered pixel art is very sensitive to scaling – especially for things like text – So I was a bit worried about scaling. I decided to run at a native 1024×768 window because that would work for almost everyone, and give the option to go full screen to give the player the choice.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for 10000000.
The art style is definitely retro, but that is as much out of necessity as it is direction – I am not a good artist – but I think it gets away with it because it is consistent. All the dungeons are procedurally generated so there isn’t much level design there, but there are some cute tricks to make the dungeon more fun.
The music is another area where I don’t really have the ability; I got two of the tracks stock and the main theme is by a guy named Matt Klingensmith. I got it CC-BY from OpenGameArt – A resource for indie developers
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
More and more it’s finding time to sit down and cut code. When I was making the game I’d just get home from work and sit down and start, but now admin, marketing, support and the like take up a lot of time
How did you go about funding 10000000 and did you receive financial or emotional support from friends and family?
It wasn’t funded at all really, I just did it all in my spare time. My wife was a godsend, She’d make sure I had an environment where I could get stuff done, and on Monday evenings we’d have an evening to chill out together to decompress
Tell us about the process of submitting 10000000 to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.
I think I was kind of lucky, then game released on iOS to critical success, which took me by surprise, and then Valve asked if I was interested in bringing it to steam. I think this was just a couple of weeks before greenlight hit, so I was really lucky there.
Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
A little. I think the average game time is 6-8 hours so I think 5 bucks is a decent price. I took a bit of flak for having it more expensive on the PC than on mobile – The reason for that was to offset the extra support needed for PC, and the rebalancing took much longer than I had planned for. I’d probably sell it for a bit more on mobile if I could too.
Can you tell us why you did not chose to release a demo for 10000000?
It always annoys me as a gamer to not be able to have a demo, but I just didn’t have the time to spend on it.
How important is it to get instant feedback about 10000000 from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
Very. It was particularly useful just after the Steam launch, There were a bunch of threads with problems that I was able to get resolved very quickly. The PC gaming community is really helpful so everybody was happy to send me over log files, crash dumps and help me reproduce and fix any problems.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review 10000000 professionally?
A hell of a lot. They’ve been doing this longer than I have. Positive reviews are great because It means people get and play my game, but critical reviews are good too; it’s something you can act on.
How do you feel about the various indie bundle promotions and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology? Would you be interested in contributing to a project like that in the future?
For sure, I think it’s a great idea. I’d love to be in the humble bundle one day.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
As a gamer I think it’s awful. There are a bunch of games that I want to play but I haven’t because of intrusive DRM. I can understand the reasons behind it, but in it’s current form it just doesn’t really work.
How do you feel about individuals posting videos of 10000000?
I think it’s awesome that people do that and connect over something I made; I certainly don’t have a problem with it
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
There are good examples and bad examples I think. It can be really cool when It is done right ( see: Dunwall City Trials ). It really grinds my gears when I pay for a game and then find out It’s barely playable without additional DLC or microtransactions. I don’t think it’s fair to complain if the original game is free though.
How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for 10000000?
It’s awesome. Modders are some of the most crazy talented people out there. They do stuff I couldn’t even dream of doing. 10000000 isn’t really that moddable at the moment, but that’s a feature I’d like to add.
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
I don’t really know If i am qualified to give this advice. The way I always looked at it was – As an unknown developer – even with a good game – you are rolling a d20 when you release it. Hope for a natural 20, but It’s a crowded marketplace, so you’ve got to be okay with a 1-19, learn, repeat.