Patience is a virtue.
But resilience is underrated.
A little under a year ago I was working my nine to five job as a teacher when I wanted to take a break from grading papers. So I did what any bored teacher would do in my situation and jumped on my phone. I just had gotten into a popular tabletop game with friends and wanted to download a similar game as I still had the itch to play something like it.
So I searched the app store high and low for a game to get my fix in. A thinking man’s turn based game that was fully 3D and based on movement and positioning. Something sci-fi and with a deep customization system as I like choosing what I can bring into a battle. Something fun and rewarding as I love games where I can pull victory out from the jaws of defeat. So I looked. Again and again but found nothing like I wanted. I fired up Google and searched on the internet, but was dumbfounded that no such tactics game like I wanted to play existed. “That sucks.” I thought and went back to grading papers for the rest of my free period.
But why the hell did that game not exist? To me it seemed like a tabletop styled tactics game would be a perfect fit for a mobile phones. The games I play with my friends were fun, but also bogged own by dice rolls. An app that took care of that for me could play out a match pretty quickly and allow the player to focus on just playing the game. Sure there were some similar games out there, but they were often super simplified, played out on a 2-d checkerboard, or were a tactics game disguised as an RPG or base builder. Mobile Strike? Mobile Ugh.
There’s an old saying everybody knows that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. Sure I’ve never dreamed of making a video game before and didn’t even know where to start, but why let those small details stop me? Within days I was writing out what would soon become REDLINE.
From the start, the game was centered on cool ass robots running around and blowing each other up over 3D terrain. Each one was to be fully customizable with a massive array of weapons. sensors and even pilots! Big explosions! Weapon combos, deep strategy, intuitive swipe based controls, and an engaging setting with bright colorful graphics. Throw it all in. This game was gonna be awesome!
The one little problem as I mentioned was I had no idea how to program. Dammit Jim, I went to school to become a history teacher not a game developer! Despite my complete lack of game development education I jumped into the game designer pool with both feet first and learned to swim along the way. Through the strength of the game’s ideas, a bunch of talented coders and artists were recruited to help make REDLINE. I’m forever thankful for them as they invested a ton of imagination and energy early on into creating the game’s look and feel. We busted ass and in two months had created a playable game demo from scratch. With dreams of dollar bills in our eyes, we proudly took our work to Kickstarter. The hope was an injection of crowdsourced funds would help the game stay on its breakneck development pace and hit the market in short order.
And then our Kickstarter failed.
Spectacularly and impressively, it fell into the large heap of Kickstarter projects that fail to fund of which I’m sure you could pile up to the Moon and back if you wanted. There’s many reasons why it did, which I’m sure I’ll write about at a later date, but failing at something you worked so hard on and were so proud of is quite a severe kick to the balls. We did get a lot of good feedback from the Kickstarter campaign, both positive and negative so it was helpful, but in the end, REDLINE simply wasn’t ready. Afterwards, I tried to keep my chin up, said all the right things that the game was still on track and moving forward, but the fire in my belly was out, as was the team’s. After that two month crash course of development we were spent.
As a result, in the weeks and months afterwards, REDLINE lingered in pre-development hell. We refined the game a bit. Maps were improved, movement and combat were toyed with, but the progress came in small increments of one step forward and two steps back. One big issue was the creation of the proper servers that could handle the game’s workload. Sadly, to make matters worse, I just wasn’t as focused on the project as I needed to be and the game suffered greatly from it. The thought came up many times to move on, as the game had become my own personal version of the classic movie, A Bridge Too Far. Game development is HARD after all. Who knew?
Failing at something you’ve dedicated yourself to is a humbling and lowly experience. We’ve all been there before and I don’t have to tell you, it’s not a fun place to be.
Thankfully, stubbornness and ignorance are qualities I’ve always had in spades. REDLINE had too much potential to abandon, the concept was still strong I felt, and on top of it all, there STILL WASN’T an equivalent game anywhere on the app store for what I wanted to play in the first place.
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
Though the game had stalled out in development hell, and stalled out hard, it was harder for me to walk away from it than to keep going. A trick writers often use when they encounter writer’s block is to take a break from their work for a significant amount of time only to come back to it with fresh eyes.
That’s exactly what happened with REDLINE. The first thing that needed to be done was to rebuild the development team that had eroded in the prior months. The internet is full of talented coders and artists hungry to make a name for themselves and I was lucky to find a core group of great guys for REDLINE version 2.0. We took a long hard look at the combat system and redesigned it to flow faster while still keeping the strategy and tactics firmly in place we wanted from the start. We amped up the unit customization system which is something that I’m really proud of. (its gonna be way cool) And we’re expanding the number of units in the game to give players more choices when it comes to how they want to play. Most importantly, instead of racing for a successful Kickstarter again, we’ve learned our lesson and are prepared to make the game fully on our own without outside funds and at our own pace.
Numerous other small changes were made during the REDLINE redesign and the end result is the game not only plays, but looks better than ever before.
So REDLINE is back, and it’s gonna be better than ever. Make no mistake, the game still has a long way to go in its development, but I’m confident in the work we have ahead. We’re already well on our way and I can’t wait to share more of the game with you in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Starting a large project, be it making an indie video game, writing a novel or starting a company is a difficult and long process. As are most things in life, the deck is stacked against you from the start as time, money and resources are always in short supply why the naysayers sadly are not. Coming up compelling ideas isn’t as easy it seems. Finding right help and supporters is a trial and error process but essential since there isn’t much you can truly do on your own. The highs of seeing your ideas finally come to life are exhilarating. Conversely, the lows that come from setbacks rearing their ugly head,and there are always setbacks, can be crushing. Putting yourself out there to the public is essential but also nerve wracking.
The one piece of advice I can give to anybody working on something worthwhile is a simple cliche you’ve heard before a thousand times. NEVER GIVE UP.
Or as I personally have come to see it, “Losers quit when the fail, winners fail until they succeed.”
Which leads me to the point of this article. Point blank, once again, we’re aiming to put REDLINE back into the public’s view. We’ve tried before and failed, but we’re back at it again because he team strongly feels this is a game worth making and we’re gonna dedicate ourselves to making an awesome game worth the time to play. But beyond that and anything else I write, I want you to walk away from this article knowing that’s it’s ok to fail. I tell my students all the time that “fail” is not a four letter word and there is no reason to be afraid of it. Only through mistakes can we ever truly learn and grow. I hope REDLINE’s journey is proof that with limited resources at your disposal and the proper resilient mindset, you can do crazy things. Like develop a video game out of the blue on a whim one day.
These days as I’ve learned, developing that independent video game these days is an incredibly sustained and daunting task. One thing that’s essential from the start is that you must build a large fan following around your property to help share in the hype and spread awareness of what you’re trying to make.
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Personally I have no idea as I’ve never not, not been in the woods to see. But that’s not the point. The point is, you cram that forest with as many people as possible so that if that tree falls you’ll never even notice as everybody is too busy blowing each other up playing REDLINE on their mobile devices to care.
So welcome to the forest. I hope you stick around as I promise it’ll be worth it as I’ll be posting weekly updates to the website with news on REDLINE’s development and progress. And, If you haven’t already, check out our Facebook page for fun content and news on REDLINE as well as our Instagram and Twitter accounts. We even have an email list if you’d like to enlist in the REDLINE Army to make sure you never miss out on the latest news, screenshots, concept art, and information on REDLINE.
Thanks for reading! Next week I’ll be back with an in-depth look at some of the games that I love to play and how they inspired REDLINE.
Until then, keep taking the hits that life throws your way.