- Level design is hard
- Failed to earn extra money
- Unity made an oopsie
- Unreal FTW
- Linux good (probably)
I was postponing this post until I can make money from a web game I’ve been working on for about a month. The plan was to write a blog post bragging about how easy it is to earn money when you want to. Almost a month later, I realized it wouldn’t be as easy as I imagined. Or at least I would have to change my approach to the game design if I want to have a chance.
Last week, Unity made an oopsie, pushing me out of my comfort zone. And I think it will be a good thing in the long run!
The infallible money-making plan
I assume you are aware of free web games. You know, the ones you see when you search for “play games online free” in your favorite search engine. I never thought of it, but apparently, you can make decent money developing for such platforms.
The most obvious way is, of course, ads. You implement ads in your game for the specific platform and get the revenue. This model is barely worth talking about since it’s hard to earn more than a couple dozen dollars monthly.
The less apparent alternative is to license your game to the platform. From what I have heard, you can license a game, starting from a few hundred dollars up to seven or eight hundred dollars, depending on the platform and the agreement. And not all platforms are asking for exclusivity. So you can license a single game to multiple platforms, earning between five hundred, to a couple of thousand dollars per game. The best part is that the game doesn’t have to be huge. It can be a 20-minute puzzle game. And judging by the ones I tried so far, they don’t have to be super-polished, at least in theory. The reality, however, is a bit different.
While what I described above is not technically false, the platforms don’t want to pay for non-profitable games. I know, shocker! Yes, they may accept a well-polished short game. But they won’t pay for it. So the usual rules still apply: the game must be engaging, hold the player’s attention for some time, and give an incentive to return. So, a two-minute artsy game about a lonely pixel won’t cut it.
My idea was to make a chess-based puzzle game and polish the hell out of it. I do like what I ended up with. But it turns out level design is not my strongest suit. The game ended up being very short and not challenging. While I had a vision and story in mind, to realize either good level design is a must. I will try to add a few more levels to flash out my vision and try my luck with other platforms. Unfortunately, in this state, it is not very challenging or engaging. Of course, I will share it soon, and there will be a postmortem.
Another idea to make some extra money was to teach Unity on Preply. I still could do it, but apparently, Unity wants to die. And as a resident of the Netherlands, who am I to deny euthanasia to someone who desires it so much?
The Unity thing
I’m not gonna go into the details, but long story short, Unity has changed (or tried to change) its monetization policy. Retroactively. Without an option to opt out. Even if it ends up walking back on the new policy, and curing the cancer in the process, I don’t think I will be able to trust Unity again. Therefore: Unreal!
Side note: Note: Unity backed up, and implemented a decent policy. And I don’t foresee doing something as egregious as this anytime soon. The backlash was enormous. But, as I said I’m not willing to trust them unless there are some dramatic changes in the leadership.
In my first devlog, I talked about my desire to learn Unreal. Seems like the universe agrees! With Unity committing corporate suicide, I uninstalled it from my PC. I don’t have the desire to install it back or, spend any more personal time than absolutely necessary using it. Since we are talking about dramatic changes, why Windows? The main reason for me using it was Unity. Unity’s Linux version was quite buggy (not that it’s super stable on Windows, either).
There are games, of course. But my experience with Valve’s Proton was great so far. Also, there is the Game Pass Cloud. It worked great on every platform I tried it on so far. Finally, if it comes to it, I still have my work laptop.
Why not wait for Godot?
Before you ask, I did consider Godot instead of Unreal. While it is a closer alternative, I’m tired of learning niche technologies and having a hard time finding work. As far as I can tell, there are more vacancies for Unreal developers than for Unity. Also, I will be learning C++, which is a standard in many industries, even outside game development.
While I’m done with Unity, unfortunately, Unity is not done with me. Obviously, I have my job. Obviously, we are not switching to Unreal. Not in the foreseeable future anyway. I still need to wrap up The Gambit, and, I’m still getting bug reports for Alchemist’s Castle. But my main focus will be on Unreal. For this month, I aim to develop a short walking simulator in Unreal. I will be very much satisfied if I can make something similar to the Fate of Dynasty.
So this month, I will:
- Wrap up The Gambit
- Create a few new levels
- Write a postmortem
- Develop a short walking simulator in Unreal
Talk to you in a month!