Indie developer, Aaron Varkonyi shares some tips for first time developers.
The first two boom periods for the video game industry referred to the games as a fad or trends. Today, entire generations have grown up in a world that never knew life without them. Among them is 21-year old Tiffany Nickel of Tinley Park, Illinois.
“I am a fan, a gamer and an indie developer,” Nickel said. “I’m pretty well entrenched in gaming to the point where it’s hobby, interest and career. It would be hard to describe myself outside of the gaming world as that seems to be my only world.”
Nickel recalls her passion for video gaming was sparked by a now-iconic game character.
“The first game I can recall playing on my own was Tomb Raider II for the PlayStation,” she recalled. “I know I played some Super Nintendo games before that but I was so young I can barely remember it. I was about five years old when I first played Tomb Raider II, the first level is so ingrained in my memory because I had to play it so many times to get past it…and I wasn’t savvy on the whole ‘saving your game’ yet. I played Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil 2 around that time as well.”
While these early Sony titles are the ones Nickel recalls as introducing her to video gaming, she quickly recalled the single game title that later hooked her for good and made her think of games from a different point of view.
“Final Fantasy X for the Playstation 2 was the game that hooked me. Not only was it the game that hooked me, it was the first game I started taking notes on,” she recalled. “These notes consisted of ideas that I thought would make the game better for whatever reason to questions such as ‘why do all the characters walk the same?’ I was only ten years old at the time and didn’t know much about 3D models and animation, so I’d sit and contemplate these things.”
Almost a decade later, Tiffany would be introduced to a person who she says helped her take her from contemplating about the inner workings of a video game and into the world of developing them herself.
“For me things really became more clear when I turned 18 and met Doc Mack and the people at Galloping Ghost Productions,” said Nickel. “A friend of his and my brothers talked and set up for Doc and I to meet so he could show me what it’s like to be an indie developer and develop your own game. Since meeting him over three years ago it has quite honestly changed the way I look at games and play them.”
Nickel’s new outlook on video gaming has lead her to begin development on Endless Mark III, a deep role playing game title.
“Even though I was thoroughly enjoying playing RPGs, I would often find myself thinking of other elements that I thought would make them better,” she said. “Even games that were so influential to me like Final Fantasy X still had things I would have wanted to see. After a while, the amount of ideas I had, left me thinking that it would be great to see all these ideas come together in an actual game.”
With the freedom of indie development, Nickel says she is taking her time to pay attention to the fine details of Endless Mark III, aiming to connect the players with the characters while keeping the game at a fun pace.
“We are still early in development, the story itself is still being written and developed. It’s a fairly large story and its seems every time we are working on one element of the game, we come up with new elements to incorporate to it,” Tiffany stated. “A lot of attention to detail is being put into the game and I really hope to develop characters people will connect with and grow attached to as they play through their journey. We’ve been especially working hard on creating a unique and innovative leveling system for players to get involved with. I feel in RPGs, most of the time you’re just grinding away trying to gain some levels. With that in mind we’re trying to make the battle system fresh and innovative so those ‘RPG grinds’ won’t feel old and boring. There really isn’t anything that’s not important to us during development.”
With indie game development at an all-time high, Nickel also offered some words of encouragement to others who might dream of taking their ideas into an on-screen gaming experience.
“You can’t just talk about making a game. Start writing out your ideas and drawing and just push forward no matter what,” she said. “I didn’t have much experience when I started and now I able to do graphic work, web design and have such a better understanding of just how a game is made. There are some great people out there with lots of knowledge who are looking to help with projects. Communicating and finding other people to help get you to your goal is key.”