Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Daedalus.
Hi, my name is Patrice Meneguzzi, I’m a 34 years old french engineer. During the day I’m a developer of web applications … and during the night I’m working on Daedalus. So basically my role regarding the game is “all”, I’m designing, coding and creating graphics and music for the game.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
Where did the idea for Daedalus come from?
The idea of Daedalus has been in my mind for a long time. Daedalus is a mix of two games I loved: Alien breed and Quake 3. Alien breed being a top down game I played on Amiga back in time and Quake 3 the well known arena FPS. After the release of Quake 3, I always thought that a game with the top down aspect of Alien Breed and the game modes and controls of Quake 3 could be really cool. I never saw a game like this so I just decided to try and make it myself.
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Daedalus?
I think that the biggest failure was the steam greenlight campaign. Even if I’m now greenlit, I know I managed it quite poorly. In my opinion I made two mistakes: the first one is that I started it too early. The game was not sexy enough and there was no demo available. Then as there was no demo available, I did not communicate about the game which was the second mistake. Because of this, after one week or so, the activity on the page went down and it was really difficult to get some more votes.
Regarding the successes, the main one is clearly to have been able to create the whole game alone from scratch. The biggest challenge was in fact to keep the motivation up all along (I started this end of 2011). Being a project I did on my spare time, I had no obligation to keep working on it and could have stopped at any time. From the beginning I was aware that it would be a big challenge, and something that helped a lot was posting about the game on a dev forum. Getting feedback (and positive one ) is really important when you’re alone on a project, because then you know that some people are waiting to see the progress, so you’re not doing the game “just for yourself” anymore.
In its current form, how close is Daedalus to your initial vision?
It’s quite far away, but in the good direction! My initial vision was quite modest: LAN only, no bots, no particle effects, basic lighting, no map editor … in fact I was not planning to really distribute it, it was more something I was doing to play in LAN with some friends. But all along the project I added more and more things, responding to the feedback I collected and I’m really happy with the result today … even if I still have a lot of things in mind to improve it
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 Daedalus and if you faced a similar challenge.
For the multiplayer aspect of the game I should be quite safe as it features mainly player vs player matches. In solo, the player can choose between 5 different skill levels for the bots, but even with this I still had to adapt some things based on user feedback: I added an aiming line, I decreased the aiming accuracy of the bots and I also added a new difficulty level because the gap between the easy and medium level was too big. Now the difficulty levels go from “quite easy” to “quite hard”, so I hope that everyone will find the one that suits him. But I’m already prepared to make some more adjustments after release.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring Daedalus would run on the various PC system configurations?
The fact that I haven’t used any high level framework (like unity …) didn’t help for this. I learned that even if the different GPU constructors are supposed to follow a precise specification when developing their drivers (openGL drivers in my case), in the end the same code can behave differently on different GPU, even on the same brand … so I had to refactor some core pieces of code several times after discovering these differences. I also had difficulties with Linux and the window management which was quite buggy with multiple monitors. In the end I was able to put up something that is working well in all the configurations I tested.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Daedalus.
For the art style and music I was inspired first by the alien breed games on Amiga but also by some movies ( Alien for sure, but also Blade runner for the music … ). I tried to create a sci fi atmosphere with a good mood, dark but not too dark, colored but not too much ( it’s not a disco simulator! ), gore but not … hmmm no there is never enough gore in this kind of game :). The dynamic lighting system I developed helped a lot to obtain this.
For the level design my experience as a player of quake 3 also helped. But the best way to create good maps is actually to play them a lot. I usually play each map I create at least 15 times and in the end I usually keep only one map out of three. It takes time but it works quite well, knowing that with the map editor it’s pretty fast to create a map.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
The communication is certainly the toughest aspect for most indie developers including me. Having a good game is not easy, but getting people to know that it exists is actually much more difficult I think, even more if this is your first game. I’m still struggling with this and did not found the magical recipe yet on “how to get your game known to the public”.
How did you go about funding Daedalus and did you receive financial or emotional support from friends and family?
The good thing when you do all the aspects of a game alone is that all you need is time. And as I already have a job I didn’t need any financial support. The only expenses for me are the servers I’ve been renting since the release of the alpha demo, so I’m paying them with my savings. My friends have been of great support during the development, we used to discuss a lot about the game, and they were my guinea pigs all along to test it
Tell us about the process of submitting Daedalus to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.
As discussed before, getting greenlit was not easy for me but now it’s done so it’s a big relief. Since then I’ve been contacted by several websites that were interested in having my game in their store, so it’s all good for me. My plan is actually to release the game on steam only at the beginning and then expand on other stores. There is no big strategy behind this, it is just that I want to be as responsive as possible after the release to eventually provide fixes and enhancements for the game. As my internet bandwidth is modest, uploading to different stores can slow me down significantly in this process so I prefer to concentrate first on only one store.
Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
Yes for sure I had a look at different titles. The price is not yet fixed, but what I have in mind will be fair for a multiplayer game with a map editor.
Can you tell us why you chose to release a demo for Daedalus?
The first reason is that Daedalus is featuring a control/camera mode that is not very common. So in my opinion, seeing it on a video is not enough for a potential player to know how it will feel playing it. And the second reason is that I needed a way to find bugs and to get feedback on the game to fix/enhance it. The demo is sending crash reports to me when it crashes, and thanks to this I’ve been able to fix a lot of issues.
How important is it to get instant feedback about Daedalus from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
During the development it was really important for me to get this feedback for multiple reasons: first it helps to know if the game has some chances to interest players when released. Then it helped me to fix and adjust the game for it to be better. And finally it helps to keep up the motivation for working on it. I’m convinced that without this feedback, I would never have finished this game.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review Daedalus professionally?
I take seriously opinions coming from everyone, professional or not. But for sure a professional review has a lot of value, because most of the time it is very detailed and done by someone who has dedicated his time to make a constructive criticism of the game. The development of Daedalus will not be frozen after release, so if possible I may adjust things depending on these reviews and other feedback I will get from players.
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?
The bundles are definitely a good way to give a second life to a title some time after the initial release or if the game as no success on release. So for Daedalus this is an option I may consider in the future but not really soon.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
I personally think that the usage of DRM is just useless. If someone wants to play any game for free then he will be able to find a pirated version of it on internet, no matter how strong the game protection was. So in the end, most of the time DRM is just bothering the players who buy the game and not those who download a pirated copy. Paying or not for a game you like is a matter of choice. Moreover as an indie creator, I prefer putting all my efforts in the game itself instead of wasting time developing useless copy protection systems.
How do you feel about individuals posting videos and receiving monetization of Daedalus?
In my opinion it is clearly a win-win situation. If someone publishes a video of Daedalus and makes money with it, it means that the video has been viewed a lot … which also means that I will get potentially a lot of new players buying my game after discovering it in the video. From my point of view, this is free advertising so I’m always happy when I see a new let’s play video of Daedalus. To all youtubers: I love you, continue your great work! Also it is always useful for me to actually see how someone interacts with the game. Even if there is no commentary on the video, just seeing someone playing helps me to fix/enhance the game for a better end user experience.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
Free DLC is really cool. As a developer, if the game has a bit of success, I think it’s really nice to provide new things to the players that already enjoy the game and moreover it increases the value of the game and can bring new players in. For Daedalus I will certainly provide free DLC after the release with new maps and game modes. For charged DLC, I think it should be used only to propose a significant amount of changes in the game. Having a charged DLC proposing only a new difficulty level for example sounds a bit like a joke to me …
How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for Daedalus?
Daedalus is not meant to be modded the way it is now, you can only create new maps using the editor. But if someone is motivated enough to dig the code and create something on top of it, that would be really amazing. If the game has some success, maybe I’ll try to add ways to do this easily.
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
Don’t underestimate the importance of communication around your project! Something I should have done is a dev blog. It’s definitely something that can bring interest on your project if it is updated regularly and shared on twitter/facebook. I haven’t done that and I regret now. Moreover it’s a nice way to get the history of your project and remember all the fails/success you faced during the development.