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A Humble Game Dev Tale, Reach up to the sky!

Hello humble reader, my name is Crystal. I suppose you could call me the "CEO" of SkyReach Studio, or Founder. But titles aside, the story of SkyReach and our flagship game "Critter Crops" began with me. Unlike many people who write blogs or share things about themselves, I won't sit here and sell you on all the things I did to make my story a success. Quite the contrary! So, it's very nice to meet you friend, as a regular person and humble dev I welcome you and thank you for stopping in!

This is my face. Pretty average human being. I love lolita fashion, video games and anime.

How it all began

Critter Crops started as nothing more than a tiny project that was the end of my college story and the beginning of what I believed would be a life in Software Development. As I approached the moments of completion I was so proud of what I'd accomplished. My hands created a tiny little game that I called "Mystery Monster Collector". Horrible, I know.

After weeks of working hard to create the little plot I decided to share my little creation with the world.

Up to that point I had dabbled in game things a great many different ways and failed miserably at making anything worthwhile. Despite those failures, I was proud and wanted to share my brainchild with anyone who would look. So, I did! I posted a short gif of my game in an inde devs Facebook group as well as an indie reddit page.

Now, before I dive into this further, it should first be said that my personal definition of terms like "blew up" and "grew like crazy" are probably much different than the internets overall view of viral or popular content. So, after posting to those social platforms something amazing happened. PEOPLE LOVED IT! A great many voices entered my direct messages asking about launch dates, functionality, features and soooo much more. This tiny thing I built, people WANTED IT! It was a proud moment and at the same time, this is one of the parts of my story that I prefer not to share with other devs.

Not all projects will garner interest the moment the world gets hold of it. Let me repeat that "NOT ALL GAMES WILL GET HYPED UP IMMEDIATELY". In fact, MOST won't, and that's totally okay! I was part of a rare and LUCKY few that got a tiny internet boost. Yup, you heard me correctly, it was luck. Whether people care to admit it or not, a huge piece of success in video games has to do with luck. Of course we all want to say "100% of my success comes from my hard work". However, that's often not true, and for me it definitely wasn't the case.

So, what happened next?

Sign on the dotted line

I continued to chip away at the tiny features of "Mystery Monster Collector" until the conclusion of my capstone assignment and then just couldn't put it down. The games community grew and as it did my very best friend agreed to be my champion in the face of the people. I've never been great with community stuff or customer service and she is quite the opposite from me in that regard. She took over community management and suddenly our tiny following had grown to hundreds and soon thousands across a variety of social media platforms.

It was then I realized what a horrible mistake I'd made. This community was relentless and wanted more and more game content. However, as a solo developer with 2 kids, a husband and a full time job it just wasn't feasible. I needed help, but in order for that to happen, I needed money.

We considered a Kickstarter and began raising awareness. However, after months of prep, we found that that wasn't going to be a logical answer. It was quite discouraging seeing so many amazing people with their eye on our game and still our pre-save page stayed so tiny. Instead of wallowing in that, Charmaine and I went back to the drawing board. She was my cheerleader through the process and she encouraged me to pursue a publishing agreement.

Weeks passed, dozens of publishers met with us and all said no. All said we were too early and my lack of experience in game development made me a risky choice. Can't say I disagree with them to be honest but I do feel that risky doesn't always equate to a bad choice.

A final contender entered the equation at that point, Freedom Games. Now, I was quite skeptical about them since they were relatively new but so was I, so it would have been silly of me to write them off because of that. We spent weeks going back and forth and finally came to an agreement. and so, about 4 short months after sharing our game with the world, we had a publisher and were onward to getting an animator, musician and cleanup artist.

Let's be honest

Following our publishing deal, I'd love to say things were easy and went perfect but that isn't true. Due to the risk associated with our tiny studio, we didn't get the greatest deal and not a huge payout, but that isn't a complaint. It's just the truth and the way these things work sometimes. I attribute the fact we've come this far to the fact that Freedom Games took a huge gamble on us. They gave us the chance that nobody else would and because of that, our studio has garnered so much attention and we're soon approaching the launch of our first game. So huge thank you to Freedom for believing in us and the game when nobody else would.

Now, let's be honest. Game development is hard. There is no easy way to do it, there isn't a roadmap to follow. Mine is a story of grandiose amounts of luck and trust by other people. My work weeks generally end in 3 digit numbers. My physical health and mental wellbeing could definitely use some TLC. All that said, I wouldn't change it for the world. I love "Critter Crops" (goodbye "Mystery Monster Collector"), I love the community of incredible people who believe in us and have brought 2 Kickstarter campaigns to a raging success, I love my team who I couldn't have done this without, I love my publisher who believed in me, and most of all, I love being an inspiration for other developers and young people who dream of the heights SkyReach has achieved. I live and breathe the motto we wear so proudly "The dream of gaming".

I look forward to a bright future reaching for even greater heights.

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