“First steps are always the hardest but until they are taken, the notion of progress remains only a notion and not an achievement.” – Aberjhani
Everybody, meet Andrei. Andrei, meet…. well, everybody.
Andrei Bazanov is a professional developer, working on commercial software since 2008. Only recently did he try his luck in game development, and the first product of his endeavour is Crazy Drive – a humble opening to a whole new chapter.
Q: Are you a professional developer or an enthusiast, and is Crazy Drive your first attempt at developing games?
A: I am a professional developer. Only recently though, did I actually, try my hand at developing games. Crazy Drive was my first attempt at actually building and releasing a game. So, whilst I am a professional developer, I am not a game developer. And since I love new challenges that involve learning new things, I really enjoyed developing Crazy Drive.
Q: Is this your first attempt at creating a game using Unity? Tell us more about your first Unity experience.
A: Yes, Crazy Drive was my first attempt at using Unity. I literally sat through endless hours of Unity tutorials. It’s so powerful that I doubt whether I am using 20 percent of its capabilities in Crazy Drive. Once you get the basic concepts, it is then easy and flexible to build the game you want.
I really appreciate the fact that an indie game developer can use Unity and publish a game for free. Unity works well with Visual Studio which is my IDE of choice. The Documentation is reasonable and their frequent patch releases are ideal. Overall, a very good choice.
Q: Tell us about the game. Why did you choose a racing game? How long did it take you to make it?
A: I remember playing computer games when I was much younger, and I always used to enjoy racing games more than anything else. Even now I am a follower of Formula 1. I enjoy the exhilaration that you get from racing. It’s like no other game.
It takes much concentration. So naturally, I chose a racing game to cut my teeth into game development. Since I was working on it only during my free time, it took me a few months. The most time consuming task was “dreaming” up new levels. It takes a bit of imagination to come up with different things for every level that would make the game enjoyable.
The main thing I wanted to achieve with this game is the ability to play with one hand. Travelling to work and back on a bus, train, etc. you cannot always use both of your hands. Also the ability to play when all you have to spare is one minute. Short levels help kill that one minute of free time.
Q: Which Unity plugins were most useful to you and why?
A: Well, the most useful plugins for me have been the SOOMLA ones. I really wanted a store in my game and the ability for people to post their progress on social media. Implementing all that functionality on my own as a brand new game developer was very daunting. So I looked around and found SOOMLA.
I decided to give it a go and what a good move that was. SOOMLA has some dependencies on the FacebookSDK and so on, so that was included also, but not much else. SOOMLA helped by saving me months of development. Implementing the In-App Purchasing (IAP) for Crazy Drive would have taken me a long time.
By using SOOMLA Store and Profile unity packages, I was able to not only implement the functionality quickly, but also safely and reliably. Reading the code, I can see that real professionals have written it, and that gives you that peace of mind when sending your game into the wild. It is good when a game developer is busy about creating what’s upon his imagination rather than getting slowed down by billing code and other things like that. SOOMLA helps developers by allowing them to concentrate on their creativity whilst doing the hard work for them. Not to mention saving some money also, since SOOMLA is free to use.
Q: What would you add to Unity to improve your game-making experience?
A: I would add much better support for 2D game development. I know they are working hard on that, but there is still room for improvement. The other two things that I always find myself worrying about are security and performance. When I heard that PlayerPrefs was not secure I could not believe it. I think it should be secure by default.
Performance-wise I would like Unity to offer some easier way of implementing performance for people that are new to it. Maybe some warnings that say, ‘I see that you are using FixedUpdate() quite a bit, consider using Update instead’, or things like that. Obvious things should be flagged up I think.
Q: What’s missing in today’s mobile games, in your opinion?
A: I think there are the core gamers that all they do is play games day and night. They live it and breathe it. So people like that always look for best graphics, best virtual reality and so on. What I want to see more is games for the occasional gamer. The ones that could benefit from some light entertaining that games usually bring, but are not too clued up about how they work.
Simple games that have very few options and even fewer buttons. Games that do not take forever to complete a level. Candy Crash is such a good example, although it does have more options than I would like to see. Simple games that challenge your mind and solving skills without myriad options. That will help the older generation get engaged with the gaming world that we live in.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: My plans for the future are to just keep tinkering in my free time with Unity. I have another game in mind. It is difficult to produce a nice looking game without the help of a good graphics designer. Most of the graphics in crazy drive are graphics that I have done.
There are some royalty free graphics in there, but most of them are my work. And I am not a graphics designer at all. Whilst I have the imagination and the programming know-how, the graphics are not good. My plans are to solve the graphics issue by maybe selling the vision I have for the new game to a graphics designer and have him come on-board for the ride.
Also, I plan to publish Crazy Drive to iOS.