“To build a game on your own starting from the ground up, you have to know all the basic programs, before moving into Unreal to create some sort of product. Only after you obtain the technical skills necessary, you can move into the game design and focus on the aspects that make your game unique.”
Zeng Xiancheng is the solo indie developer for Bright Memory with his company FYQD Studio. What makes his feat so fantastic is that the game looks and plays like a AAA game utilizing the latest technology in game tech. We talk about his process and determination to complete this commercial success story.
I’ve often wondered what the culmination of tools becoming faster and barriers of entry for game development being lowered would look like and Zeng was the answer. He represents a new generation of game developers that is able to deliver a triple-A quality product to what normally would take a team of eighty-plus veterans to do. It’s both an exciting and scary thought of how he is able to achieve such a bar while still in his early twenties. Please don’t be mistaken about my praise here to downplay solo-developers of indie titles of years past, like Minecraft, Super Meatboy, etc. What Bright Memory is, represents the highest bar of graphical accomplishment that before, cannot be completed without a roomful of artists. And yet, here we are, a game that is truly triple-A in scope, and greatly independent in scale.
Zeng walked me through his beginnings of quitting his full-time job and at first was thinking of assembling a team but consequently ended up going into full-production by himself in March 2019. He had a demo version before fully dedicating his time into it.
Zeng was able to leverage Unreal Engine 4 and Quixel Megascans to help him save time of creating art. In this interview, through translation, I asked about various topics from a perspective of a game developer and how his viral success is shaping his view on the industry and how he feels about inspiring other lone developers to follow in his footsteps.
Topics that were discussed in this episode
0:00 About Zeng Xiancheng
3:06 Always planned to be a solo project?
10:10 Why Unreal and not Unity?
13:54 Games that inspired Bright Memory
15:30 How did COVID affect development?
18:28 When did the game really took off with the press?
21:34 How are you balancing the time to do everything yourself?
26:09 Daily routine and the main difference at the beginning vs the end
28:49 How do you stay motivated? 32:48 What softwares did you use?
36:15 Other technology that you’ve seen recently that you wish you had during development of Bright Memory?
40:00 What have you learned that you wish you knew at the beginning of production?
42:20 Advice for people considering solo development?
50:56 The steps to take from demo to full production?.
56:30 Shout out