There was one player who asked for Hungarian in the comments. I loaded the XML, ran an update, he updated the game and commented back with: "Thanks!" People see that there are comments in their language and are much more willing to download, and it generates trust in the product as well. Even if the game has bugs, players won't be bothered by them, because contact has been made, and player loyalty is higher when the language barrier is broken. That's really cool.
Otherwise, players can be picky. It's just like in a family. We forgive relatives for things we would never forgive other people for — It works the same way here. Us versus them.
And you should use all the tools at your disposal. If there is a way to make a player's time spent in my game more comfortable, I make it happen.
In any case, indie development is an entry to the market, which means it's a business. When did you realize that what you do is a business and that it was time to say goodbye to the illusions you had before? Since there's this widespread romantic belief in the myth that developing a game is a simple thing.
Yes, I had a moment like that. I had illusions, fantasies, I was imagining epic battles and had no idea what the future held.
But, I think it's actually a good thing when you know nothing at the initial stage. You don't hesitate, you charge forward without any fear. The programmer who balanced my game was always saying about my ideas: "I don't know, no way, it's too difficult", and I was like: "Come on, I don't know, I just really want this! Let's try." And he would say: "Okay, we can do it like this and like that." And it turned out really cool. And if I had had all the knowledge he had, I would have given up on the idea myself.
And then there was another situation: when I started work on DZ3, where we had decided to do everything in 3D. We made this huge, fantastic map and were then faced with the fact that a standard smartphone just doesn't have the resources to run it. We had to reduce polygons, which made the quality drop, and everything just got so ugly. And that's when I kind of stopped functioning.
Come on, what the hell, I did so much work, everyone was shooting at each other, a machine gun on a jeep fired at a rocket shot out of a rocket launcher, it was so awesome — and then suddenly it was all dead in the water.
But I had to do something. I had to go back to 2D, even though I spent 1000 bucks on the 3D map (while I could have done it in 2D for 200), and redo everything all over again and stay away from 3D for a while. 2D is there for me, it's simple and comfortable and gives me everything I want. Maybe it's just not time for me to get into 3D yet.
You always have to be flexible and be looking for alternative ways forward. I didn't give up game development after all that, as you can see. You should accept failure as a fact and, like water, look for another route. Then you won't lose sleep over your failures. Just accept everything that doesn't go right as feedback and as a lesson in what not to do.
Let's talk about volunteering. Have volunteers worked on your project? How do you work together with them? And is it worth it?
My musician friend Alexander Yakovlev wrote some tracks for Defense Zone 3 for free, since he was putting together a portfolio at that time.
But a lot depends on the individual volunteer. Alexander is already an experienced musician in his genre. And if you are working with a newbie volunteer, you'll have to teach them, and you'll probably just end up wasting a lot of time.
A case from my experience: when I started developing DZ2, I needed to create new units. I knew a volunteer who could draw them, but he wasn't experienced enough. In the end, they didn't fit the final version, they were wrong. But we used his work as sketches for more professional artists. Professionals do their work without unnecessary effort, and tend not to waste time on the creative part.
And volunteers work in a much more interesting way. They can bring their own flavor to a project, something new, because they need a good portfolio to impress clients.
All right, let's wrap things up. Can you give some basic advice for future developers? Steps to take at the very beginning.