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Anul Agarwal
Anul Agarwal

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A solo game developer generated over $400,000 in 12 months from his game, with only 2 Reddit posts.

“I did no paid promotion on the game, the only thing were two posts on Reddit on /r/incremental_games”

One of the best success stories of a solo game dev that I came across is of Matias Colotto an indie game dev, who developed the Idle Incremental game “Magic Research”.

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[Available on Steam, App Store & Google Play]

The premium game, rated at 4.9 on GP, is a UI-based idle game where you are the headmaster of a newly created institution of Magic. The game contains various systems including exploration and fighting battles.

The game features over 40 hours of gameplay 🤯 with 6 dozen storylines to be explored.

But how did Maticolotto bring this game to reality? Let’s take a look at the interaction I had with the developer:

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How did you come up with the idea?

“I love the concept of magic and the idea of using spells to solve nearly every possible situation. At the same time I felt like there’s not many quality incremental games that are not freemium / designed to try to get more money out of the player, so I decided to start the game.

Then, when I designed the Apprentices feature, something clicked and I found the game felt actually incredibly fun, to the point I wanted to play it over other games, even if I already knew how everything worked. That inspired me to keep going and eventually finish the game.”

How did you design the game and balance all the systems and resources?

“In terms of design: Although I had a rough idea (a few google docs and a spreadsheet to balance some key things, like the exp requirements to level up or the bonuses from retirement) most of it was essentially just building the feature I thought was appealing, playing through, and if it wasn’t fun, rebalance or change things until it became fun.

That’s why many of the new discoveries appear as solutions to problems you are haunted by for a while.

It also helped I was just focused on building this as a hobby/side project and not really depending on it to make a living — it made it possible for me to focus on making a good game rather than on monetization.”

How long did you work on the game for?

“It took me about 7 months to build the entire game, end to end, working 6+ hours on it every day. But it actually took much longer and most development happened in bursts. After the initial release on Android, I spent 3~4 more months bringing it to other platforms, doing a lot of UI improvements, and adding post-game content”

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Did you promote the game anywhere, like Reddit, Twitter, or Youtube?

“Marketing: I did no paid promotion on the game, the only thing were two posts on Reddit on /r/incremental_games. My account was banned when I made a third post as I guess Reddit’s systems thought I was a bot. I’ve since gotten it unbanned, but I haven’t done any paid promotion or further promotion frankly.”

How many players have played the game so far?

“I would say at least 50k at this point. To be honest it’s crazy how popular it got. It was a passion project of mine and I realistically didn’t expect to get more than about 200 sales.”
(The number is from my interview with Matias 6 months ago. In a recent conversation, about a week ago - the number of players who played the game is ~100k!)

Do you also plan to do a second version?

“I am working on a second game, yes — which is why there haven’t been many updates on Magic Research for a while! But it’s still too early to announce much.”

This should be a solid inspiration for all the game devs out there looking to work on their own projects — Being a solo game developer comes with its own set of constraints — You have to become the artist, designer & marketer of your own game.

I have played the game and interaction between different systems is quite good. A perfect recipe for an indie game dev — if you are limited by Art, just make the UI your art!

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I am Anul 👋
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