Legends of Eisenwald

Legends of Eisenwald is an original mix of RPG and strategy, with tactical turn based battles and a simple economic model. Rich possibilities of gameplay mechanics allow a player to feel being a hero of different stories ranging from treasure hunt to fighting for the throne.

Typical mistakes of an indie start-up and what to do about it

Опубликовал Roman Egorov в
Tuesday 2, December, 2014

This post is also available in: Russian

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On November 29 the head of Aterdux Entertainment Alexander Dergay spoke at GDS Conference 2014 in Minsk about mistakes made during the Legends of Eisenwald development process. Below are the main points from his talk where you can find out why development took much longer than expected.

Design document importance

We had a design document but during development, at some point, we stopped looking at it. As a result, we had to reinvent many things.

This is often called “Feature Creep syndrome” (feature after feature creeps in).

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Result:

The game became much richer and deeper but it’s not released yet.

Follow the design document!

  • If you want to make changes, have a drawing somewhere visible in the office with a space for 10 slots where you can introduce 10 new features if the entire team agrees;

  • And remember that each feature means additional expenses and postponing the release.

Detailed descriptions in design document

  • Example of a description that is not good enough: “Make this like how it was in our first game”;

  • Absence of subsystems descriptions (text presentation, equipment, sounds);

Advice:

Try to make your design document as detailed as you can. What seems obvious today might not so clear in a year or two.

Lack of planning skills

  • In 2010 we thought we could make our game in about a year and a half.

  • Failing many/all deadlines.

Advice:

If you didn’t meet a deadline initially, look at upcoming work that would be comparable in scale and increase the time needed

Budget limitations

When the budget is limited, many people only remain in the project because it’s interesting for them, because elsewhere they could have earned more (or much more) money.

Minuses:

  • Hard to get realistic schedule from programmers. When investors put pressure, they are trying to look better and give inaccurate dates;

  • Impossible to resolve issues unilaterally, it’s necessary to come to an agreement.

Pluses:

  • Opinions of everyone are included, which results in more interest in the project.

Content Amount

  • Too much content for a small team;

  • Compared to Discord Times, LoE has three times more text. DT had a lot of text and we wanted to have less text.

  • This affected deadlines and increased localization costs.

Advice:

Limit content amount, set specific boundaries.

Management/leadership mistakes

  • Necessary to perform many functions (finance, PR/promotion, community management, localization management, general management);

  • Often losing control over deadlines;

  • Falling behind because of changes in the game industry, late with new strategies.

  • Steam Greenlight was great in the beginning, and each game on Steam received featuring. But after a month we released to Early Access this changed since the number of games increased greatly. Now there are even more games, Steam store changed its design and it is now easier than ever to be lost among other projects.

General recommendations

  • More reality in judging the abilities of your team;

  • Hire more people if deadlines are constantly broken;

  • Plan your budget with huge reserves and ask for advice from more experienced teams;

  • Show your design document to other experienced teams to estimate more precisely the development length and content amount.