THE CHALLENGES OF DEVELOPING A VIDEO GAME (When you only know how to draw)

by Pirita in blog


I am Bea, and together with Pablo, we are the developers of Mutropolis! It’s been almost 5 years since these two naive devs opened their little Twitter account and set about working on the game. Back then, we had no dialogue, no characters and no story – just a couple of sketches and the crazy thought that we could do it all within a year and a half at most…

HA-HA-HA. I laugh at your optimism, me from the past.

Although we had a casual interest in learning the ropes regarding programming, we became very excited when we discovered that an adventure game could be created without any such skills or investing a lot of money. The games industry is spoiled with options for creating an adventure game using an engine that guides you through the process, such as Adventure Creator (for Unity) or Visonaire Studio. We chose the latter as we found it the most accessible.

A custom engine to build an adventure game! What a great idea. It was perfect for us, a couple of illustrators who couldn’t recognise a line of code, even if it were put in a police lineup. Despite our lack of programming experience, we did have some experience in videogames and had worked on several projects before as graphic designers. But never on our own.


Our goal was to create the whole thing ourselves. Doing it this way, we would kept the costs under control, and any possible profits would be shared 50/50. We would work from the comfort of our home during our free time, and communication between us would be very easy.

Of course, Visionaire Studio would make things simpler, but it was still a challenge for two useless programmers.

When I mentioned about the programming earlier, perhaps I was not clear.
We didn’t know how to program ANYTHING.

Despite the out-of-the-box tools at our disposal, it soon became clear we had potentially over-hyped our software. One of us was going to have to learn at least the basics of building a game using an engine. Which one of us would it be?
Pablo comes from a Fine Arts background and my own is in film and screenwriting. Neither of us seemed to have the right qualifications. With Pablo’s latent interest in programming piquing, he volunteered for the task (I dodged a bullet there).

We always thought that this might be the biggest challenge (and although we were correct, it didn’t come alone). It took us a year to get comfortable with the engine and put together a decent demo.

Then we deleted the whole thing and started from scratch again. Fun!


Looking back, I honestly think we did the distribution of tasks on a whim. I got to animate the characters even though I had never done anything like that before in my entire life… instead of using Pablo, who had been doing pixel art animations for mobile games for years! But what the hell, I just wanted to learn how to animate. As for Pablo, the only one who already knew how to do it, he wanted to program! Maybe we weren’t that practical, but we were able to enjoy the process.

Let’s not forget that Pablo was the Fine Arts graduate. My interest in drawing started as a hobby and ended up as a profession. I had no professional training, which made me very insecure from the very beginning.

I don’t consider myself a great expert in drawing scenes. I’ve always specialized in creating characters and I was happy with that. But with Pablo overwhelmed with the titanic task of learning how to assemble the game, it was on me to take over the graphics of Mutropolis.

I postponed designing scenery and settings for as far as I could. I remember that at first, I went crazy drawing characters. I managed to get Pablo out of his programming bubble on occasion to help me do the scenery sketches. In return, I made a commitment to learn the engine as well to help him with the more mundane tasks (like setting up the technical scenes).


In the end we got a very good balance. Pablo would draw for me on a sheet of paper the basic lines of the most difficult scenarios. Having a base, I was able to work from it. And vice versa, I was able to help him manage the engine and dedicate myself to setting up each scenario from scratch while he did the more complex programming.

The concept of the game was created by just the two of us. It was definitely one of the parts we enjoyed the most.  We’d sit down and discuss what was going to happen in the plot and then I’d start writing like crazy, using my notebook full of ideas.

Eventually we began to realize that we were making the game entirely between the two of us, and fulfilling our original plan! Both of us doing art, writing, programming and whatever it took.

There are still times when I don’t remember which one of us came up with an idea for the game, or who made the first sketch of that scenario or who made a joke that still makes me smile.

It is true that there are certain areas that have been exclusively authored by one of us. Pablo is 100% the creator of the game music, another skill he had to learn on the fly. It might be the only decision we made wisely, since at least he had some musical training. I devoted myself body-and-soul to learning how to animate and design the characters. The rest is a fog of authorship.

Five years ago, the mad idea of making a game between two people who only knew how to draw crossed our minds. In the process, we had to learn how to do everything else.

One last thing we didn’t expect either, we were going to have to speak in public! A nightmare for an introvert. Not to mention for two!

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