I'm Denis Sinner, the developer of Monster Sanctuary, an unique idea of combining monster taming RPG with metroidvania like sideview exploration.

Last month I launched a Kickstarter and had a thread here on reddit blow up - I couldn't quite read through the almost 3k comments back then still busy getting the Kickstarter to run - so i thought I'll do an AMA now!

I've been developing the game for three years in my free time, doing pixel art, game design, programming and music all myself. To be able to finish the game in a sane time-span I decided to do the frightening step to quit my job and launch a Kickstarter to be able to work on the game full time. And I'm very happy that I will able to do that now!

Proof: https://twitter.com/moirai

Comments: 965 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

kallebo1337743 karma

compared to 5 years ago, steam is flooded with games. new games are realeased daily and nobody can catch up. tripple a games for 60$+ coming weekly, and nobody is buying them all.

big publishers diversify massive, hoping for only one good game out of 10 to make big bank.

i know some other indie developers who put already a million in their game, with a kickstarter campaign, yet they fear they will never make the money back. it seems that the golden days are over and we are all too late.

what do you think about that?

Sersch500 karma

It got harder yes but you can still succeed if you make a good game. Steam had a rather large time window where it was easier to sustain with a mediocre game. Something similar happened after the launch of the Switch last year - the early indie titles available sold particularly well. There might be windows or opportunities in the future with new platforms.

It is similar with game genres - some are more flooded then others. There are not many indie monster tamer games despite ongoing success of Pokemon - surely a reason why Temtem and Monster Crown had successful Kickstarter as well earlier this year.

-zerocreativity86 karma

That’s an interesting take on it, which genres do you think have more opportunities than others?

Sersch154 karma

Thats a rather difficult question. I know there is an opportunity (not quite for indie) for a new Age of Empires 2 like AAA game. Middle ages RTS with stable multiplayer without F2P P2W or so. Age2 HD has a lot of players despite the game being so old.

SnowCrow178 karma

Yeah, the RTS market is pretty dead right now. WarCraft 3 is coming back next year, maybe it will bring some life to the genre?

Sersch70 karma

Yeah but I think thats mostly because there aren't any good RTS with stable competitive multiplayer.

t1ps_fedora_4_milady47 karma

Sc2 has almost 500k daily 1v1 games played, with about 100k of those in North America server. Now that it's been f2p for half a year it's about 10 times more active than its lowest points (still nowhere near its initial popularity though).

As far as stable rts goes, I'm pretty sure sc2 is it, and I doubt another one will get much more play than sc2 gets now - it's just not a very popular genre with everyone playing moba and br these days

Sersch34 karma

Its like people didn't believe an Oldschool fighting game like Street Fighter 2 could be successful again until Street Fighter 4 was released. I'm quite confident that a well made Age of Empires 2 like game would be successful again. Maybe not quite as mainstream as in the 90ies, but nowhere near dead. Same goes for Warcraft 4.

monadoboyX657 karma

What do you think you will do if this game isnt a commercial success?

Sersch1386 karma

Look for a job again :)

karemallouji390 karma

What prog. Languages did you write the game with ?

Sersch347 karma

C#

Look_Ma_Im_On_Reddit228 karma

Unity?

Sersch243 karma

yes

wapz123 karma

What version of unity are you using?

Sersch176 karma

Currently 2017.3 - I will probably update in the future, I upgraded a couple of times in the past without issues

wapz80 karma

Nice! I'm glad you've been able to upgrade without major problems and you can use most of the new bells and whistles. We had tons of problems upgrading around 5.6 at my last job due to all our custom shaders breaking and the person that wrote them no longer working lol. I'm working with 2017.4.x LFS and we are mostly happy right now.

Sersch70 karma

Yeah upgrading bigger projects is rather scary indeed.

hikemhigh14 karma

Updating Unity mid-project is basically playing Russian roulette

Sersch23 karma

You can always go back - just be sure to make a backup.

crispyfrybits17 karma

Have you heard of / checked out Godot?

Sersch29 karma

Yeah heard of it, But I'm very happy with Unity and I love C#

crispyfrybits10 karma

I was just interested on your opinion of godot for a commercial product if you feel you know enough about it to render an opinion. Godot 3 has introduced a C# version of Godot if you aren’t aware.

Other than C# what is your favourite feature(s) of Unity that makes it your platform of choice?

Thanks for doing this AMA, and I will be following/supporting Monster Sanctuary.

Sersch22 karma

I really like the clean simple component based system it enforces

jbevain23 karma

Cool! What IDE/editor are you using for C#?

Sersch40 karma

Visual Studio

jbevain42 karma

Great taste, you must be a gentleman and a scholar! (I work on the Visual Studio / Unity intégration)

Sersch31 karma

Thanks, cool :)

Xari187 karma

How many hours per week can you spend productively coding? I recently started coding fulltime and I realised even just 40hrs is barely doable to me, which kills any chance of personal projects, which I find a big shame.

Also what was your job and were you able to transfer some of those skills to gamedev?

Sersch177 karma

I've been a Game Programmer - I had times in my life where I also couldn't do anything besides the 40h job but luckily I got the motivation and descipline for the most of the last three years.

GregC8562 karma

Do you think it's possible for others like me who have an idea for a game but have an 8-5, to code after hours or on weekends to make a game? Yes stupid question but anything interesting you've learned in the methodology or tips in terms of keeping the motivation and faith

Sersch90 karma

Sure, but yeah keeping motivation and discipline is the most difficult part. You have to enjoy the development of the game. When I first started working on the game I thought it to be rather unrealistic for the game to be financially successful at some point.

Cynaren12 karma

I feel like I'm learning the wrong programming language... I've been learning Java for a month now.

Sersch39 karma

Depends if you are into mobile games, else Java isn't so much used for games. But its not a bad language and if you mastered one, its rather easy to switch to another one.

platonic3437112 karma

Hi! How close are you to releasing the game and for what platforms will it be available on?

Sersch258 karma

Planned release is late of 2020 - so still quite far away (game still need a lot content to be added).

Platforms: PC, Linux, Mac and Nintendo Switch confirmed for now

asharkey313 karma

I really want to back this, but none of the options have the Switch part of it included.

Will any of the options have this, or do you know what the price for the switch port will be?

Sersch27 karma

you will be able to choose between steam or switch for any of the options

ceriodamus68 karma

What kind of advice can you give fellow devs who would like to go the route you are doing now? As in, making your own game.

What kind of resources did you use and find inspiration from when creating and learning various aspects of game dev, such as code, music and art?

Game looks awesome! Keep on with the hardwork!

Sersch68 karma

Keep working on your games and on your skills. Don't expect good results fast, the commercial market is very harsh. You have to enjoy game development itself.

If your main goal is making a living developing games, I would suggest joining an accomplished game dev company first, if your own project doesn't work out. I've been developing games on and off since 2001. Been working as a Game Programmer since 2010.

BlueberryWasps3 karma

What games have you worked on if you don’t mind saying?

Sersch3 karma

On quite some games of the Might and Magic Franchise and most recently on Tropico 6 (isn't released yet)

NewTronas59 karma

I have these minds from time to time in my head, to just quit my job and work/do coding for the projects that I would enjoy by myself, like my own game/apps. However, I do not have trust in my ability to make money out of it later on.

Were you working alone or with like-minded people?

What/who motivates you to get back to your project when you get stuck on an issue for days?

Sersch91 karma

It sounds a bit drastic in the title, but I actually quit the job when I was quite confident that the Kickstarter for my game would succeed at least at a certain degree. I've been promoting the game for about 1,5 years and receveid a lot of positive feedback that game me the confidence.

pupunoob47 karma

Yeah, too many devs just quit without thinking. The way you did it is the right way. Still gotta eat.

Sersch37 karma

Yes I have to scratch my head reading some of the stories

Diningroomboom47 karma

Oh hi! The game is on my wish list on steam. What games did you get inspiration from if any?

Sersch79 karma

Stardew Valley, Axiom Verge in the sense of the project being created mostly by one developer

Metroid and Castlevania games for level design. Many JRPGs for turn based combat.

BersatMG11 karma

It reminds a bit of Pokemon

Sersch19 karma

yeah definitely, Pokemon is the mother of all monster taming games.

Godsafk41 karma

What did you use to make your game art and animation? Is everything hand drawn frame by frame and imported as an animation Sprite sheet in unity? If so....holy shit that's a lot for 1 man!

Sersch64 karma

Yes, I'm drawing the pixel art in photoshop. Many of the attack animations I've created using Unity's particle system.

seanptp30 karma

Would it be okay if you explained exactly what you did? I’m currently interested in developing a pixel art title myself but didn’t exactly know how to execute the animations in an efficient way. Haven’t google searched anything yet though.

Sersch41 karma

There is no simple explanation for this, you'll have to practice on your animation skills for a rather good while :)

SHiRKiT39 karma

Where do you live? Because depending on that those 100k may not last very long.

Sersch72 karma

I live in Germany near Frankfurt. Despite indeed rather expensive area by German standards, the current success of the campaign will already make the development quite secured since I'm doing mostly everything myself. I'm also planning to launch the game into Early Access next year to further stabilize.

Malhakor17 karma

Greetings from Ffm! Hope you succeed!

Sersch15 karma

thanks :)

Pianodude8934 karma

What is your favorite indie game currently (besides your own)? Cheers!

Sersch63 karma

Ryukajin12 karma

ah crosscode i remember buying that in alpha ... so you can actually play for longer than half an hour by now i guess? gotta give it another try soon.

Sersch9 karma

Yes Its actually crazy how much content you get for an indie game, I've spend 40 hours and I'm probably only 2/3rd through

Danslice26 karma

  • Any further plans to monetize the game outside of box sales?

  • Congratulations on reaching the Switch stretch goal, have you ever considered a mobile/tablet port as well?

  • I imagine it would do extremely well in today's market as a stand alone game.

  • Coming closer to launch have you considered what marketing strategy you would want to use to ensure people further than your kickstarter hear that the game exists, or do you feel word of mouth should carry the game?

  • Any plans to showcase the game at any conventions next year?

  • Plans at all to not go the self publishing route and finding a partner at all? Perhaps providing more investment or time to make exactly what you want.

Massive congratulations getting to the point you already have. No doubt this will be fun to play when it's live.

Sersch44 karma

  • No P2W or Mini transactions, I'm not a fan of that. I might consider doing an DLC

  • Mobile/Tablet would require to much rework in regards of input, the game is designed for controller/keyboard

  • I plan to work with an Indie Publisher and have them focus more on the marketing

  • Maybe, Gamescom is most likely since I'm living 200 km next to Cologne

  • Yes I'm actually already in the talks with an Indie Publisher

snortcele2 karma

Some micro transactions are acceptable. I knitted out my Pokemon go character and id throw the Dev team a few bucks for party hat wurmple.

Sersch2 karma

yeah just visual are quite fair

EmberBreeze18 karma

Do you find it hard to do both the artwork, story content and development alone?

Do you have a trusted circle who QA new patches?

What were your biggest influences/inspirations on this journey?

How do you pace yourself and prevent burnout?

I’m glad you posted this so I had a chance to checkout out the KS!!!

Good luck!

Sersch22 karma

I have my brother help me with Story and Texts actually.

I have a rather big amount of voluntary testers on discord (I allowed anyone interested to join for a couple of months)

Other solodev projects like Stardew Valley and Axiom Verge

The positive feedback and confidence that I'm working on something people would like keeps me going

SgtTryhard17 karma

What was your initial job? Were you happy with it?

Sersch24 karma

I was actually working as a Game Programmer on middle sized projects. I would say it was not bad overall, but its quite different working on my own project.

SgtTryhard5 karma

I feel you...I was in a programming club at my high school. It took over 2 hours to decide which color our game's protagonist sprite should look like lol. Good luck on your project! Maybe I should try it; looks fun af.

Sersch14 karma

Yes, If people ask me what the hardest part is about developing games, I say its organizing and managing a bigger team working on a single project.

CharlieDay7716 karma

Is there any demand for games that have NES graphics anymore?

Sersch78 karma

yes

kitikitish11 karma

What's for dinner?

Sersch19 karma

self made potato wedges

silkin10 karma

You may have already posted it but have you got any gameplay to show? I'd love to see it

Sersch17 karma

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEjt_qew3Yk - also there is a demo available on steam or gamejolt

Brooklom9 karma

Do you have any plans to improve the soundtracks and visuals for your game? (better battle theme, backgrounds, attack effects etc)

Sersch20 karma

Only in the way of me improving my skills.

While I know that those aren't quite on the professional level, I'm happy that you can succeed with a project like that, doing everything myself. Stardew Valley was an inspiration in that regard. I think my main selling point is the actual game and the quality of the visuals is good enough that the majority likes them.

GizzmotheGreat6 karma

Specifically with music, what made you decide to do that yourself? Did you consider recruiting someone to specifically focus on that aspect of the game? Or do you think that you can do it better yourself knowing the feeling that you want for your scenes or levels?

Sersch9 karma

I simply liked to do it. I didn't think I could do it better, but I would make sure to invest the needed time to make it sound good to myself.

xQasadiOx9 karma

If you reach your 100k tier and implement Online Multiplayer, how would it work? What ideas do you have to separate yourself from other RPG PVP games? Or what ideas do you like that you will use from current RPG PVP games? Your Game looks really cool by the way :)

Sersch13 karma

The difference from normaly RPG games is already the monster taming aspect so I really only need to compare myself to other monster tamer games - my uniqueness here is that you have a lot of startegic options, every monster has an unique skill tree and you can equip your monsters. Also the battles are 3vs3 that is rather uncommon for monster taming games.

Lavanthus5 karma

Hey Sersch! Been following you ever since you first asked about people's interest in the game back on Funnyjunk. Super psyched about your success and dedication so far, and I can't sing enough praise about you.

What is your plan after this game? Do you plan on continuing support and adding additional content after release? Do you have any ideas for future games you'd like to work on? And if your success really sky rockets, would you be open to creating a game company?

Sersch8 karma

Hey, its too far away to tell yet, I can see doing either additional content in form of DLC, a 2nd entry of the series or a completely different game. I can see having a company, but probably not too big ;)

Krando5 karma

Didnt you post on FJ about your game?

Sersch9 karma

Yeah I used to post there, but Admin didn't like that I promoted my Kickstarter in my most recent post.

T1mac4 karma

With graphics improving all the time in FPS and RPG and VR becoming more of a reality, what sort of future does a side scroller like your game have?

Sersch20 karma

Luckily there are still a lot of people interested in this kind of games :)

spclzd3 karma

What was your last job that you quit for this project? Your background, are you a professional programmer or just doing programming/game design as a hobby? Any tips for a absolute beginner interested in game developement? Thanks!

Sersch5 karma

I've been working as a Game Programmer on middle sized projects.

The important part is to invest time and try developing something, it will take a lot of time to become good at it. Check this: https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/wiki/faq#wiki_getting_started

mattyrome3 karma

what job did you have prior to quitting?

Sersch3 karma

Game Programmer on some middle sized projects

bifr0ns3 karma

Did you have a part time job during those 3 years? Or did you just save enough money to make it.

Sersch3 karma

I had a 40 hour job and had even to crunch a couple of times :p

lolzsupbrah3 karma

You quit your job and work full time on this so what do you do for money?

Sersch6 karma

I've launched a Kickstarter to finance the project.

misatillo2 karma

Hi fellow gamedev! I also quit my day job to go full time indie!
I have some questions and I hope you can answer them:

- How are you handling marketing? Do you plan on hiring somebody or do it yourself? I can understand the Kickstarter campaign gave you a nice comunity already but how will you be on the spot when the game launches?

- Who will do the Switch port? And why not the other consoles?

- This I don't know if you can answer... how long did Nintendo take to say yes for the Switch SDK access? Did you contact them or they approached you?

Thanks and best of lucks!

Sersch3 karma

I've been promoting the game for 1,5 years before the Kickstarter, but I'll work with a Indie Publisher in the future who will be more involved into the marketing and also the switch port.

XenonFingerBang2 karma

Oh right I saw your game on r/gaming a couple of weeks ago. I want to play your game but I currently have limited storage space on my device.Do you have any estimates of how much is the storage needed for the game.?

Sersch1 karma

The game is actually very small currently, just 100 mb

fl0w_io2 karma

How did you prepare financially before quitting? Do you still take the odd side project to make ends meet?

Sersch7 karma

I did promote my project for about 1,5 years prior to the Kickstarter and received a lot of positive feedback for the idea, so I was quite confident that I would get a certain amount through the Kickstarter - It went better then expected!

Rainbow50002 karma

Do u need an audio guy? ;) if so pls slide into my DMs

Sersch2 karma

sorry no need :p

TheMiniLiar2 karma

Are you gonna be on steam?

Sersch2 karma

The current demo already is on steam yeah

JerrodDRagon2 karma

Coming to Switch?

Sersch3 karma

yes

givemetech1 karma

I'm interested in developing my own game which game engine would you recommend for a beginner ? And what are the problems I should be aware off

Sersch1 karma

RPGMaker, GameMaker or Unity. Prepare to invest a lot of time, it takes a lot of time to become good at something :)

Santoyo_I1 karma

I don’t know if you can get to my question, if not it’s cool. How did you start? What was your first step into making a game? I’d love to work on games and develop something everyone would like, I just don’t know where to start

Sersch2 karma

I've started developing games back in 2001 when I was still at school using RPGMaker. It isn't all to important where you start, I often feel this is like an excuse to not actually start. There are many engines out there, take some time to try around what you actually like? Is it programming? Do you maybe like doing art actually? You have to invest a lot of time to become good at something, don't expect good results fast.

Also take a look here: https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/wiki/faq#wiki_getting_started

Santoyo_I1 karma

Actually I’m planning on doing computer programming as my major and hopefully find a career in the computer field and developing a game would be a dream come true especially if I have a passion for games

Sersch1 karma

sounds like a good plan! When I studied I actually wasn't quite sure if developing games would be realistic for me

Trademark09281 karma

Are there any plugins you would recommend within unity that help you with QoL?

Sersch2 karma

Not exactly QoL but rewired is quite good if you need controller support, Unity's built in input system isn't as good.

WarKiel1 karma

Are there any squirrel knights in the game?

Sersch1 karma

not yet :p

OneOfTheLostOnes1 karma

How much did you know about game dev/programming in general before you started the project? How much did you learn because of the project?

How did you stay motivated through such a long project?

Did you do the art for the game too? If not how did you find someone to fit the style you wanted?

Sersch4 karma

Hey, I did mostly everything myself. I've been developing games on and off since 2001 and was working as a game programmer since 2010. Programming was the part where I was most experienced with. I've improved a lot during the project on my pixel art and music composition skills.

LookingForWealth1 karma

What will the game cost approximately?

Sersch1 karma

15-20€

PM_M3_ST3AM_CARDS1 karma

What's the process of making a game on PC and porting it on console? Do you have to rewrite the whole code?

Sersch2 karma

It depends what and if you are using any Engine. I'm using Unity that is already focused on being able to deploy the game on many different platforms, usually you have only to do small adjustments yourself.

pam_the_dude1 karma

I have only one question: Can I breed them?

Sersch1 karma

sadly no :p

Cooldogjoe1 karma

What is the hardest part of developing a game?

Sersch1 karma

Having to organize and manage a bigger team working on one project. If working for yourself, its the motivation and discipline to keep working on it.

JaxterHawk1 karma

Will there be a physical switch version or strictly digital? If I back the digital version of the game, after the campaign ends will I choose if I want a Steam copy or a Switch copy? Any idea what the price point will be at launch?

Sersch2 karma

Yeah you will be able to chose the version. Not sure of the final price yet, physical might be possible but can't promise it yet.

xx420dpsxx1 karma

Any tips for beginner programmers? I started a study in computer science but its rather hard for me to keep up.

Sersch8 karma

Its hard to become good at something thats normal, you have to invest time and practice. Have a look here https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/wiki/faq#wiki_getting_started

Lockpicking_Dev0 karma

My question is, you say you quit your job to work full time on your dream game. But, you said you're developing in your free time. So which is it? Are you developing full time or in your free time???

Sersch1 karma

I meant I've been developing the game for three years in my free time and then quit my job to work on it full time.

[deleted]-8 karma

[deleted]

Sersch7 karma

To work on the game full time like I wrote in the topic ;)

kallebo1337-13 karma

why you do the ama? do you think this is basically free advertising and reach?

Sersch25 karma

I guess I can only lose answering this question.

Yes, advertising is a mean of the thread as well. Advertising on reddit isn't against the rules as long as your account isn't made purely for that. I've been member of reddit since 2011 - way before I even started working on the game. While I did post about my game a bit more excessive during this month of the Kickstarter campaign, I'm way below the 10% self promotion rule overall. As an indie developer I don't have the funds to promote the game the same way big developer and Publisher do - I have to do it in the communities I'm part of, If I want to succeed.

While it is free monetary wise, It is still an effort. Normally I read an answer any question - if the thread doesn't blow up like the one mentioned in my post. Also you have to handle quite some negativity from questions like this one, accusation and so on - often done by the same people who gladly upvote content of AAA games. (No offense to you, No idea if you are like that or not)