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The Trials and Tribulations of Tiki Games, part 1


Tiki Games is currently developing a PSP-exclusive RTS game called "Galaxy's End." Read more about the trials and tribulations of being an upstart developer in this three-part series by Tiki Games President Kevin J. McCann.

I've been working in the game industry for a little over ten years, always in lead designer capacity, and also wearing the dual-hat of producer for half that time as well. It's not uncommon for game industry developers in various game studios to want to do their own thing so they "can do it right."

When you work in a large game development studio you can start with the best of intentions and a design you feel really rocks, but along the way various levels of interference – from fellow team members all the way up through various levels of management – can and generally will alter your original game vision. And virtually never in a way you feel is favorable.

I've worked on large projects and they tend to be over budget and fairly disorganized. It's also hard to establish a good team dynamic on a large team – you get various factions, unnecessary politics, and so forth. Basically things that get in the way of putting together a great game.

I've been trying to start my own company for several years now. And I wanted to avoid having an unnecessarily large team, and do something I've never had the opportunity to do on prior projects – a real preproduction cycle. So in November and December of 2005 I wrote game designs and assembled a preliminary milestone schedule for Galaxy's End. Another thing I wanted to avoid was bloated budgets – being a self-funded start-up, the best approach was to target a smaller platform (the PSP) where a small but talented team can create an extremely high-quality game with solid production values for a reasonable budget.

In January 2006 I hired my team (folks I had worked with in the past, so I knew they could get the job done) and we began working on our first major milestone – a proof-of-concept playable build of Galaxy's End. We also designed our tools and engine to be scalable to different genres and platforms (so that if we later wanted to make a shooter or RPG it wouldn't be starting from scratch).

See part 2 of this feature tomorrow on PSP Fanboy.

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