Imagine 6 bright, eager, and adventurous roommates. Sam, RJ, and I lived with 3 of our friends in an apartment we called, The Mansion. It was campaign season, early 2016, and we were very hot for politics and game dev. Inevitably, those passions bled together into TMM.
We talked about the game idea constantly. I created mockups. I even had an animation for a wall building game that was the original idea for TMM. We involved the whole house and did a lot of prototyping, user research, and testing. In that respect, the idea was built into something that I think is really fun.
The dev cycle was constantly injected with feedback from everyone in the house. We had many releases which were hilarious, but deployable and testable. This turned out to be crucial. We may do a post on the development experience if there is interest, but I would say it was the most effective and collaborative project that we had done yet.
The political theme led to a lot of humor, which has always been a big motivator for us, but the availability of content and sound bites really made that come to the forefront.
This was the first time we’ve ever had a due date on a project! We hardly released it before the election, and it would have had more time in the spotlight had we released earlier than that. This does have some pros, like being ruthless in our prioritization, but that’s a topic for another post.
After the election, and especially because of the results, the game had a natural doomsday clock built in. It’s a social commentary, so once we released it, it was at it’s most relevant. After the election, after more events had happened and the news cycle moved on, the quotes we used and sound bites just weren’t as funny and memorable anymore. Not to mention it just isn’t as funny with Trump actually being president.
If you’re an indie dev, or anyone that’s creating content that you want to bring joy to others, here are some of the things we took away. Chase your passion! The election and our excitement for politics was the driving force that created this game. We made a really good game, and the content matter was funny, but it might have pushed some people away immediately, and it definitely doesn’t have the staying-power of a time independent theme. If we had reigned in the politics a little, we probably could have spread the game to more people, and created more joy for the world, even if just by a little. It might be worth it to temper yourself to help others enjoy what you create (we have yet to do this in practice though).
Our intent wasn’t to spread a political opinion, but I can see how the content is a little dangerous in that respect. Everything you make is a reflection on yourself, your brand, and your friends. This is something that I am going to try to keep in mind, because it will happen whether I want it to or not.
Sam made the first SylverStudios sprite based animation, and it’s absolutely amazing. We could have lead an IPO with that craftsmanship. I hope you guys enjoy the Trust Fund Teller and get tons of them in game just because they look so good!