We had the pleasure to speak with Simone, of Biim Games. Check out our interview and maybe learn a thing or two.
Creepy Mahjong is a game that I didn’t plan to create. Nearly 3 years ago, I was just showing my daughter how my old MSX computer was working, thanks to an online emulator. The website had also some games there, one of which was a mahjong solitaire that my daughter fell in love with. Since it was nearly Halloween time, I decided to start a small challenge creating a similarly themed game.
In the end, the game was completed with 5 levels but was missing the audio part. Just a few months before, I discovered Epic Stock Media. During the game development, they were running a promotion for Horror audio to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movie Zombie. That was just perfect timing for me, saving time to create sounds effects by myself.
So the little game was ready, and I felt that I could spend a bit more time improving it and create a proper game. Even if working on it only for a small amount of time, sometimes forgetting about it for several months, the game improved. I created a level editor to facilitate my work, and then I made it available for players. The editor generates encrypted codes for the created levels, so they can be shared among friends and on game communities. In this way, players can generate endless combinations of different tile settings and always have new challenges.
That is the feature that makes me more proud of this game, and I think it’s the most notable selling point.
Another feature is the non-linear game progression. Players move from one area to another of the map and face different challenges, depending on the result of the previous challenge. Winning or escaping from a level might change your original path.
Yes, I have created several prototypes for my games, but nothing that have reached the final commercial stage. I have however worked, and I am still doing freelance work for some clients, developing whole games, prototypes, implementing features, fixing bug and teaching.
I also sell some assets and game templates, in addition to record video game tutorials that I publish on my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/c/BiimGamesDev
I grew up with the 80s video games, and in the rare moments of free time, you have more chances to find me playing old video games rather than new ones. Those are my source of inspiration.
In addition, I have postponed for 30 years my dream to become a video game developer. In the meantime, I have accumulated hundreds of notes of game ideas, still waiting to be developed. Ideas keep coming every day, from anything that surrounds me. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I start to take notes about a new game idea I was just dreaming about!
In the future, I might create more modern games, but being a solo developer, it’s more likely that I will keep working on games that add a new twist to old classics.
Yes, for my latest game Creepy Mahjong, I have used exclusively audio assets from Epic Stock Media. Mainly they come from ‘Horror Game – Sound Effects Library‘, while the rest comes from ‘Quest Game.’
Everyone that tries the game compliments me for the audio. I used a different sound effect for each type of matching tiles, and nearly every level has its unique background music. The overall effect truly helps to create the creepy and dark atmosphere of the game. You can view some of the sounds in my trailer here:
I wanted to be a game designer, but no one lacks ideas, and I couldn’t find some indie group that accepted my role without having another main skill to offer (and by the way, now I understand why it’s so important for a small indie team).
So I just went back to my origin, when I started to code when I was 8 years old, with nothing else than the instruction book of my MSX and few simple programs that I bought in the cassettes sold at the news agency. At that time, there were no Internet, no books (especially in Italian) and no friends that were coding video games. I did a few things all by myself, like simple programs, a bit of digital art and music, but aside from a small game prototype, never a complete game. Thinking about the past experience, let me consider that if I was able to do something at that time, I could definitely do something today with much less effort.
Jumping forward to nowadays, being a solo developer, I do everything. I have collaborated in the past with other people, but those are more exceptions than a rule. I enjoy being in control and shape of every minimum part of the game; therefore, I prefer to do as much as I can by myself, even if it slows me down.
However, in the future, I hope to find collaborators to help to speed up my creations, and since audio is one of my lowest skills, I am going to purchase more assets to save time. I have already bought quite a few packs in advance from Epic Stock Media for future projects. I am extremely happy about the quantity and quality of the files. For the price, it’s a real bargain.
The evergreen advice is to start with a small project, especially if it’s your first game. There is a lot to learn, and it’s not only related to the development itself as design, programming, art and audio, but also to self-discipline, organization, marketing, how to survive with no income and so on.
Don’t be ashamed to use assets, but don’t rely only on free ones and try to don’t buy from different sources assets that you will use in a single game. Epic Stock Media offers a great assortment of audio that can be used for themed games, all from the same creator; therefore the sound will be consistent.
The same thing applies to art. If you can’t draw or don’t have an artist in your team, take advantage of pre-made assets, but make sure that they cover all the aspects you need for your game. Search for packs instead of single files and then shape the game around the audio and art you have bought. Use them as your constraints, which will help you to keep your scope small; everything will look and sound as just made for it.
Another tip is to hold on about adding new features while you develop, try to have a small game design ready and stick with it as much as you can. If and only if, in the end, you will have more time than expected, you can add some minor features. If, instead, you are behind schedule, take note of the features and add them in an eventual sequel, and perhaps cut down everything that you haven’t developed yet and that isn’t a core game mechanic. You can still reuse part of the code in the sequel or a new game; it will be easier to add something new later on once your experience will rise.
Finally, before starting to work on the game, check your game design (or at least notes) and divide it into small steps. For each of them, estimate what you need in terms of money and time. Do it at least twice, preferably with some days of gaps between each revision.
Once you have your estimate ready, double both time and money. For every task you haven’t tried to do before, triple them.
Don’t be embarrassed to create a small clone of a classic to raise your skills. You will never create an MMORPG by yourself when companies with loads of money and over 200 developers spend years to create one. Learn well from your first little game, the second will be for sure better and the third one even more.
Remember, no one can pilot a space rocket before they have even learnt how to walk…
On my YouTube channel I have started to record a weekly diary on the playlist “From 0 to Full-Time Indie Game Developer in 1 year”, where I talk about my experience and attempt to become self-sufficient as indie developer. I give many advices related to my experience and I talk about the highs and lows of this journey. If you don’t mind my English and my out of control hair you can check the playlist here:
Thanks for sharing! You can find Simone of Biim Games here.
Other interesting reads
Rumblings from the Studio at Epic Stock MediaRumblings from the Studio is a blog about royalty free sound and digital media products. We talk about sound effects, plugins, samples, SFX, video and the technology around creating and using these in media productions. We write about creating royalty free products that change the way you hear and see audio in games, films, TV, performances etc. Take a look around and thanks for reading.
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