Developer J Brothers: How it all starts [Guest Post]


This is a guest post by Pascal Jacobi from J Brothers as part of Developer Appreciation Month. Please support this developer by downloading their free or paid app!

It starts with a small idea. Something you’d like to see come to life on your Android phone but haven’t seen it yet on the market. Either it’s there but not quite the way you want it or it’s not. For us it was there, a couple of tower defenses were already available on Google Play, but none of them gave the player the possibility to customize their gameplay as much as they wanted. That was the birth of Blew Tower Defense.

Then comes the matter of “how”: whether you’re going to handle the development, graphic design and functional design yourself or have someone else do it for you ; you need a solid team. As two brothers, one of us being a developer and the other being a multimedia designer, we were well on our way. We were going to be the designated parents of BlewTD.

After that: the motivation. I think it’s important to understand the circumstances in which you will be working and the reason why you would be doing it. When you find a good reason, something that can keep you going for a while, I think you’re already well on your way. The reason why I’m saying this is because when you’re working on a project aside from your real life job you have less and less time to hang out with friends, be with your lady or just do whatever you enjoyed doing. So, if your project takes several months of development, it may become frustrating to endure and you might just end up giving in to sloth.

At first our reason was the fact that we managed to get it approved as the final project (multimedia design) for my brother’s masters degree (So we just had to have something playable by the end of the term). Once that was done (around 6 months later) and that it had been presented to the school board (He got a good grade for it too!) we simply decided that we wanted it to appear online just for the sake of it being online. We weren’t necessarily after money or anything, we just wanted to make Blew Tower Defense grow and give players the possibility to play a really cool game that had a lifespan of more than just a few hours while remaining fun all the way.

That’s how it all starts. With an idea, a team and a solid motivation.

That’s also when all the troubles you never expected at first come rushing in.

Unlike a standard IT project with standard management, standard work procedures and decent documentation, when you work on your personal project you don’t take the time to do all these things. You just don’t want to put time into building up a nice Gantt diagram to make sure your project is well on its way, you don’t take the time to setup a bug tracking tool and even less to build up a document that’s only going to be read by the two people that are working on it. You just don’t do these things because you’re a small team and don’t have all the time in the world.

Until now, after the project got deployed on the market and it’s living its life prosperously, I’m still not sure whether we should’ve taken the time to do so or not. Because, in the end, that lack of organization did make us waste an enormous amount of time when we got to the testing phase. But I’m not sure whether we wasted more time restructuring bits and pieces of the game than we would have preparing everything in advance. I guess this would depend on how well you can handle problems. The more at ease you are with handling things the less likely you’ll need to organize everything. If you feel like you can lose it at some point when everything seems to fall apart I’d say you should prepare and organize your work ahead of time (This may seem like we’re praising ourselves, but believe me when I say we were on the edge of giving up a few times).

Another big difference between having your own small personal project and a standard IT project is the workforce’s organization. On a normal project you’d often have separate people for each of the main tasks of the project’s life-cycle. I guess that for a game it would be: game-designer, graphic designer, developer, tester, marketing manager and project leader. That means that whenever the game-designer comes up with a great new idea, he’d first talk to the project leader about it. The project leader would then have to look up the amount structuring changes that would have to be made with the other 4 parties before he can take the decision of whether they can put that new idea into play or not. Being just two on a project makes it a lot harder to estimate what true efforts would be put into some great new idea that could seem negligible at first but would end up being catastrophically impacting.

A couple of months after we started our development, we found ourselves overwhelmed with tons of ideas that we believed would be awesome to have in Blew TD.

We wanted to add a cute way of interacting with the game without it being too troublesome: so we added-in a “skills” feature.

We wanted to give our players as much freedom as possible in their game style: so we gave the game different types of difficulties, we added tons of wicked towers and lots of twisted maps.

We wanted the game to have puzzle-like feeling to it. Something to make it more challenging yet as much fun as possible: so we gave towers with different types of. Heck, we even made it wilder by giving immunity to some creatures.

That’s how it happens. Your team gets put to the test. Harshly.
And after many months of hard working. Then comes that day.
That day where you hit the “Save” button on Google play.
That day when your application is published.
That day when millions of users can see your game. Download your game. And say whatever they want about it.
That day where you find out whether having worked your behind off for the past many months is valued by the world or not.

Although Blew Tower Defense had some bad critics of people that just didn’t like the game-style, found the game too hard or just disliked the absence of some features ; We also got some great constructive comments, great new ideas and eventually did manage to build up a decent rating.

The reason we went online was to give players access to a fully customizable gameplay, we wanted them to be able to play for hours with various different setups and still have fun.

We wanted Blew Tower Defense to be a fun game… and I think that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Note from Phandroid

As a tech writer that constantly works with many developers, I must say that J Brothers is one of the most down-to-earth and passionate ones I have ever met. The team is very attentive to its audience, and really listens and helps you with all your issues and comments.

If you would like to check out the game Blew Tower Defense, you can get it straight from the Google Play Store for $1.99. You can also check out the Lite version for free or take a look at their official website. The tower defense game is very fun and aesthetically pleasing in a very unique way, and I have definitely enjoyed many hours playing it.

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting. As a newbie developer myself this was very helpful, keep posting stuff like this please!

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