2022 in review
3 January 2023

Happy New Year!

Inspired by the excellent 8,760 hours guide we've written a recap of last year: what went well, what didn't, where we tried hard and where we didn't.

What went well?

We'll always have Paris was the project that dominated our 2022. It was an artistic project, undertaken purely for the joy of making it. We loved developing it, and got to see many people play it and understand what we were trying to achieve, so it goes on this part of the list!

We'll always have Paris was our second project, and looking back we are happy that we didn't repeat the mistakes from our first project, Sarawak. Reusing the engine saved a lot of time. As well as that we were careful to think ahead more carefully, which shortened the development period and yielded a leaner, better-focussed game.

We'll always have Paris was the first game we released on mobile. We developed it from the outset to work on both mobile and desktop, but I personally think that the phone platform suits the single-session experience better. A highlight of the mobile release for me was being selected as Game of the Day for both the UK and US App Stores!

Because of the niche themes explored in We'll always have Paris, we spent a lot of energy making sure it reached the right audience. We are grateful for everyone who took the time to play the game and wrote thoughtful reviews.

Towards the end of the year, we exhibited We'll always have Paris at the AdventureX narrative games convention. It was a tremendously fun and validating experience, that we wrote about here.

What didn't go well?

On a personal level, extensive home renovations took over most of 2022. Working in a construction site is conducive to neither focus nor creativity. We're glad that's all done and we can replace the time that ate up with developing games once again.

We'll always have Paris sold well compared to our expectations, but realistically it wasn't profitable. Profitability was never an goal for this project, but we would like our future games to sell enough to enable us to work full time on them!

Where did we try hard?

We put effort into working smarter, by simplifying and improving our processes. When building games it is easy to add tools and steps to the development process, but it is hard to take them away, and the creeping complexity can cause larger problems than those you were trying to solve. This year we greatly simplified our systems. Process-wise, we committed to weekly progress discussions to keep development on track. Still lots to improve with both of these!

We both worked to improve our skills, and learn more about our respective crafts.

We spent significant time understanding our combined strengths and interests - which have shifted since we started working on Sarawak many years ago - and planned our upcoming project, Iron Roads, with this in mind.

Where did we not try hard enough?

We need to delineate work and leisure time better. It is not sustainable, or realistic, to be fixing bugs late on Sunday night and expecting to wake up fresh and inspired on Monday morning. This is of course a problem shared by many, so any ideas on how to tackle this are most welcome!

Our original plan for the first part of 2022 was to release Sarawak on mobile. We quickly realised that porting Sarawak to mobile was going to take a very long time due to the way it was written. We've not second guessed our decision, but if Sarawak had been designed from the start with portability in mind, we wouldn't have had to cancel it, and Sarawak mobile would be out there. The upside is that we did not repeat the mistake, and Paris released on all platforms from day one.

This one is possibly a consequence to the single-playthrough nature of our previous two games, but we didn't try hard enough to build and engage a community around our work. We hope to improve this with Iron Roads!

For time and motivation reasons, I didn't add many new artworks and listings to the Etsy shop.

2023

So, what lies ahead for us? We'll be working hard on Iron Roads and posting regular updates on that. We also hope to increase the frequency of these long-form posts here - so do get in touch if you have any comments or ideas!

Wishing you all the best for 2023

Marina

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