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Developer case study - Solitaire Jazz Travel

By Björn Ritzl on Jun 15, 2021

Tagged as: Developer case studyInterview

In our series of developer interviews we have the privilege and pleasure to talk to and learn from talented game developers using Defold to create amazing games. In recent posts we covered the success of Defold games on HTML5 game portals and now it is time to turn our attention to mobile game developers. With its history as a game engine used by mobile game developer King the Defold game engine is very well suited for development of Android and iOS games. With Defold you can be up and running with an Android or iOS application in a matter of minutes. There is no need for any additional tools to build your game for mobile and thanks to a big ecosystem of free and officially supported extensions it’s easy to setup and use game services, analytics and monetization integrations.

In this interview we meet up with Nikolay from BigButton.co to learn how he created and released Solitaire Jazz Travel in record time.

Hi Nikolay! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a game developer with a substantial experience spanning more than 20 years. I started with game development for pocket PC computers a long time ago. I then used to be the head of the game development department at a big company located in Minsk, Belarus, where I led games development for publishers such as BigFishGames, iWin, Alawar, Clickgamer (EA) and others. Our department also developed one AAA title (PC, PS3), games for PSP and a few mobile games.

I then started a company with some friends of mine and we moved to working on casual mobile and web games. We have published more than 12 games on Android, Amazon, iOS, and Facebook Canvas platforms.

You recently released a new puzzle card game called Solitaire Jazz Travel. When did you start working on the game and what did the development process look like?

I have always dreamed of creating a complete game from start to finish on my own (graphics, animation, sound, coding). Considering that I had already created a bunch of classic solitaire games I wanted to create a new one with unique gameplay and test it in various app stores and online game websites around the world.

The whole process from idea to finished game took me 6 months. Graphic and sound design took me 2 months and the coding took me 2 months as well (frontend and backend). The last two months were spent on polishing, testing and level creation (300 levels).

The game looks great, with nice graphics, a lot of small and juicy animations and great attention to detail. How do you approach this part of game development? Any tips and tricks you can share?

The knowledge of all those small details comes from experience and it’s difficult to put it on paper. When I was leading the game development department at my previous job I required pixel perfect graphics from my team and now I try to follow those requirements myself. One trick that I used was to watch through every animation in the game many times and iteratively improve each of them.

Which part of Solitaire Jazz Travel are you most proud of?

The part that I am most proud of is that I managed to build a game from start to end in just 6 months while still working on my main source of income.

What are your plans for the game? Will you continue to work on it and release new versions or do you consider it done?

Making of new versions depends on the overall success of the game but there are definitely new levels to come for the current version of the game. The game is coded in a way that it would be very easy to create different types of solitaires so working on new card games would be easier.

When and how did you learn of Defold?

I learned about Defold in 2018, but I started working with it only in the second half of 2020 as an experiment. Although that experiment turned into two full game projects (a new game is coming soon :) ).

Why did you decide to use Defold for Solitaire Jazz Travel?

We used to to develop games with Solar 2D (formerly know as Corona SDK). We have developed 12 games with it but we used to suffer from the lack of plugins and support. We started searching for a replacement for the Solar2D. We were considering Unity, Godot, Defold and some JS based engines. As we planned to create mainly 2D games fast and reliably we decided on Defold. We have also enjoyed the number of plugins that Defold had and the simplicity of developing them. Defold is also a lot more flexible and has a lot more granular control when compared to Solar2D.

“I didn’t even need tutorials to start using Defold. I was able to just start coding.”

What, if anything, did you struggle with when shifting from Solar2D to Defold?

Personally for me, I didn’t have any difficulties switching to Defold. I didn’t even need tutorials to start using Defold. I was able to just start coding.

If you could wish for one improvement to Defold then what would that be?

To be honest with you, I like almost everything about Defold. The only thing that I would wish for is more configurable built-in text editor (I really like Sublime).

What are you working on right now?

Currently I am working on my next game which is a hyper casual puzzle. Additionally, in July our team (from my own company) will start a new project with Defold. It will be … solitaire game (remake of our the most profitable title).

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! How can the community follow your progress?

You can learn about new games at https://bigbutton.co and https://twitter.com/BigbuttonC.