The year 2020 was tough in all meanings – COVID restrictions and business problems. Before we created Boxville, I tried to cope with all this stress by diving into immersive games, but not suspense ones, rather those which give a feeling of safety and coziness. Soon I realized that there are not so many anti-stress games around. Almost all of them brought you some drama, which was more than enough in my life. So I decided to make a game for myself and for those who needed the same. I needed a safe place to rest off all everyday stresses.
But what to start with if you have absolutely no experience in game development and even no connection to this sphere? I started by experimenting with Unity and with gathering a diverse team of unique specialists. Some members of our team came from the “previous life”, other ones were found by coincidence. The only thing which united us all – nobody had previous experience in game development. All processes looked like constant experiments with everything – from engine customization to animation creation and even sound recording. Everything was done as we felt right and not as it is common in the industry.
The first part from the concept creation till the demo release was challenging but fun, till the war came into our lives. War brutally broke in with huge blasts of Russian rockets right near our homes in the early morning on February 24, 2022. A new reality unfolded quickly: empty streets, long queues for food, and harsh curfews. All this was accompanied by constant blasts and gunfire.
Game development paused because our team was disrupted, someone had to move to safer regions, and someone lost their development equipment and regular workplace because of occupation. One month later, when we coped with the first shock, we decided to resume our workflow. Although sometimes it was not easy to motivate yourself to work especially as this work requires positive and creative energy, the process of creating something beautiful and contrasting with our new reality was a healing in itself. Also, one of the biggest supports in these hard times was our small but loyal community – we tried to keep them informed about the game development process and overall situation and they paid us back with their support and care.
Generally speaking, there were a lot of difficulties even without the war. Indie game developers do not have so many funding possibilities everywhere in the world, but in Ukraine, they are even more limited because there is no possibility to start a Kickstarter campaign from Ukraine, so you have to use some intermediaries to launch the campaign. Also, not all platforms are working with Ukrainian studios, and trying to get development equipment is another developer’s pain. As with all great stories, ours has a happy ending – we managed to create and release our game Boxville, despite all difficulties and obstacles and now we are happy to bring it to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One on August 16, 2023. I hope Boxville will bring you a cozy and warm atmosphere and take your stress away.