The journey to early access

August 9, 2019 by Monkey Maneuvers

About 11 months ago I made a decision to do something different and follow a dream of mine. That is, to build a computer game from scratch. Luckily my wife supported me, and we agreed that I would take time off work to get something out on Steam.

So here I was, without a full time job, and only very basic knowledge of the gaming engine I chose to build on, Unity. All we had decided for the game was that it was going to be fully cooperative multiplayer, and that it would have a zoo theme. That’s not really much of an idea. Just a half baked thought.

A few months in I had an early prototype, and sent it to a few friends for testing. The feedback was mixed - I would describe it as not positive. I got the sense that criticism was being held back. I can’t recall any really positive comment at all. At that stage I considered cutting my losses and giving up.

But before I did, I thought about my approach. I was focused on failing fast, and getting out something as quick as possible to validate my idea. These were the ideas that are pushed in all the start ups I’d worked with for the last 5 years or so. But the thing is, it led to a game that I didn’t believe in. I wasn’t in love with it. So why would anyone else love it?

I was reminded of something I had read in Creativity Inc.written about Ed Catmull’s experiences at Pixar. One story particularly spoke to my experience - how at Pixar they treated movie projects as ugly babies, something that needs love to grow up into something worthwhile. It reminded me that new ideas need protection, and time to grow up into something good.

I decided to try again, and make a game I could love.

Now, another 9 months on, and I’m still making that game. It’s still a work in progress, but I can already see that this game could be great. It is a game I can love and I hope other people will love it too so we can work to make it better together.

Pixamal Zoo is will be available in early access on 31 October 2019, add it to your wishlist on Steam today to let us know you believe ugly babies should be nurtured too.