The story of Evgeniy Gatsalov, lead designer at Real Welders, and the team developing Sky Haven, an airport tycoon game, and their Kickstarter campaign!
We are Real Welders – a small studio located in Vilnius. Our office employs 5 people: three programmers, an artist and a game designer. And one more 3D artist who works remotely.
We are working on Sky Haven – an airport tycoon game where the player begins to control and build/manage an airport in 1910. And with the course of the game and progress, it all evolves and grass airstrips are ultimately turned into modern international hubs.
This is the most difficult project our team has ever worked on. To control the process, we adhere to the Agile Scrum methodology in terms of daily workflow. As it often happens, our Scrum implementation is very different from the one described in the books. But we do not miss daily standups and sprint planning. After that it’s just a matter of spending the whole day together with everyone trying to get their tasks done and often going over different aspects of the game trying to come to common decisions. Sometimes it gets heated of course when opinions clash which can be a time waster, but it’s probably an unavoidable aspect of game development.
We have been working on Sky Haven for 2.5 years. None of us had worked on a project for so long. We have all been in the industry for a long time, but before that we were all mainly engaged in mobile games. Although there is one bearded nerd in the team who worked on VR at EA.
The idea came almost impulsively – we didn’t even spend too much time thinking about the kind of game we wanted to make – just during the last game we were making someone suggested it and we just knew that that would be the next thing we would make, but then it’s just been a challenge after challenge in every aspect from game design to visuals, etc. To this day we constantly hit roadblocks that we need to figure out how to overcome, but we feel that it’s heavily due to the nature of this type of game genre where a single change affects most of everything else in the game so we always keep having to fix everything.
Sky Haven is a pretty niche game. During the development, we have created a small but very cool community. During all this time we have been sharing development news on Twitter and on discord. By the way, the discord server was launched and is managed not by us, but by the community.
Now we have started a kickstarter campaign to gather everyone who is interested in the game and to involve them more in the development process. We plan to distribute builds among backers, receive feedback, share plans with them and together choose which features to implement in the first place.
All of us have our own different sources of inspiration, but as a team we can all agree on inspirational people like Jonathan blow whose insight into the gaming world is just fascinating and deeply inspiring, Sid Meier whose types of games are a big inspirational part to the game we’re currently making as well as many other similar games from other people like Cities Skylines, Sims, Factorio, etc.
We also like to keep in touch with the gaming world by listening to Youtube channels like: Get indie gaming, GDC / GDC Vault, The Quartering, Sebastian Lague etc.
As for many teams – the main challenge for us always remains the underestimation of deadlines. We are working on it, trying to be flexible to minimize fails. Nevertheless, the development of some features gets out of control and takes much longer.
It’s difficult to deal with it, because when you love what you do and want to do it as well as possible, it’s very difficult to deal with time constraints. We constantly try to fight with this, discussing features, we decide together what we plan to finish, and what we will postpone, etc.
Make a prototype that is fun to play. It sounds banal, everyone knows it, but very often it is neglected. Making a good game is much easier if you have a good prototype. Moreover, finding a good publisher and even getting financing is easier if you have a good prototype.
Do not be afraid to spend time on a raw ugly looking prototype. Game development takes a huge amount of time. You will definitely redo the game more than once. But if you have a good prototype – if you have a good foundation, then you might be able to remake the game significantly less times and hit the bullseye much faster. Perhaps, to make these decisions, experience and development pain are needed. We have already accumulated enough of that, so next time we will invest much more time in a prototype before moving forward.
Our immediate goal is a successful kickstarter. Then we release an alpha version with gameplay that covers the 1910-1940 period. Next, we plan to regularly release updates according to our roadmap. And as a result, by August 2020 we are planning an Early Access release.
Each new time period in the game will include new mechanics, new features. By releasing these periods gradually, receiving feedback from our backers, we can improve stability and gameplay and make the game that will appeal to us and the community.
On an additional note – in less than a week we have collected more than 40% of our kickstarter goal and received warm support from the players. This is very inspiring and gives strength to work on the game.
Our kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rwelders/sky-haven/
We regularly post updates on our twitter: https://twitter.com/RealWelders
In addition, we communicate in our forums:
And community discord