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This Steam designer unlocked the code of cozy hidden object games to make 42 lovely puzzlers in only two years.

Follow the Fun, the most prolific designer you've never heard of, produces many games per month and has the process down to a science.

If you don’t spend your time on Steam looking for hidden object games, you’ve probably never heard of Follow the Fun, who may be the most prolific game developer in all of PC gaming. Since 2022, Follow the Fun has released dozens of hidden object games with titles such as I Commissioned Some Bees!, I Commissioned Some Cats!, and I Commissioned Some Unicorns! They are all exactly who they say they are. For the low-low sum of $3.99, you get a handful of lovely, elaborately detailed pictures that the game’s creator commissioned an artist to create, along with 100+ hidden goodies.
“The name was actually intended to be ambiguous,” explains Follow the Fun. “‘I commissioned some bees… to do what?’, as if I’d commissioned the bees themselves.” They hoped that their first hidden object game, which was released in March 2022, would pique people’s interest. The meaning is revealed only after you click through to the game.

Fans frequently mention and laugh about the naming arrangement, however there are certain problems, particularly the clarity. Follow the Fun sacrifice by not naming them something basic like “Hidden [Objects].” They rely on Steam’s recommendation technology to ensure that their games reach players looking for more conventional terms.
The Commissioned series pays homage to the glory days of Where’s Waldo, where you could spend hours as a kid meticulously combing over the illustrations, giggling at the little guys in the background climbing up fire poles, eating hot dogs, getting splashed by waves, and finally finding Waldo smiling cheekily in his striped shirt, all of a sudden so obvious you wonder how you ever missed him in the first place.
The charm of these games stems from more than just the artwork. The project’s simplicity is endearing, especially in today’s world, when the work that goes into the games that end up in our Steam library is frequently obscured to the point of being completely unknown.
When a collection of hidden object games appeared in their Steam library, they realized they were onto something. They quickly began reaching out to artists. “With the exception of time periods without Internet access, there has not been a single day since that I haven’t been messaging and advancing projects with artists,” says one of them. Because the brief is “draw whatever you want,” the artists are free to experiment, and the nature of the games encourages you to become engrossed in the intricacies of these small fantasy worlds.

(Image credit: Follow the Fun)

Despite what the game titles suggest, the work does not end there. It’s not as simple as making the bees interactive and adding music to the image. Even something as simple as a hidden object game requires a lot of effort to create. After 16 bee games, 10 cat games, and a slew of one-offs, Follow the Fun has a pretty strong framework in place.

The first step is always art commissions, which must be more than just visually appealing: they must be detailed enough to provide a challenge, as well as nitty-gritty technical aspects such as ensuring that everything is in the correct resolution and that no hidden objects overlap. Once the artwork is complete, they’ll have a team to assist them with even more of the odd small side jobs. This includes:

They commissioned some bees. How charming—a clear path from point A (no bees) to point B (bees available for $3.99).

According to Follow the Fun, the concept came from watching videos in which a YouTuber commissions a group of Fiverr artists to perform the same task and then shares the many pieces of work with their audience. “I found it amazing how different all of the products would be, and how each artist would bring their own uniqueness to the assignment. So I started thinking about how I could create something comparable in game form.”

When a collection of hidden object games appeared in their Steam library, they realized they were onto something. They quickly began reaching out to artists. “With the exception of time periods without Internet access, there has not been a single day since that I haven’t been messaging and advancing projects with artists,” says one of them. Because the brief is “draw whatever you want,” the artists are free to experiment, and the nature of the games encourages you to become engrossed in the intricacies of these small fantasy worlds.

Despite what the game titles suggest, the work does not end there. It’s not as simple as making the bees interactive and adding music to the image. Even something as simple as a hidden object game requires a lot of effort to create. After 16 bee games, 10 cat games, and a slew of one-offs, Follow the Fun has a pretty strong framework in place.

The first step is always art commissions, which must be more than just visually appealing: they must be detailed enough to provide a challenge, as well as nitty-gritty technical aspects such as ensuring that everything is in the correct resolution and that no hidden objects overlap. Once the artwork is complete, they’ll have a team to assist them with even more of the odd small side jobs. This includes:

  • Marking up each object (there are 1500+ objects per game!)
  • Removing things in the background that look too much like the hidden objects
  • Checking to make sure the content of each level is appropriate for all ages
  • Finding high quality music to go with each piece of artwork, and making each track loop
  • Play-testing the levels multiple times to eliminate confusing or unfairly hidden objects, and to decide the best level order
  • Recording gameplay and making a trailer
  • Drawing the achievement icons and creating level thumbnails
  • Designing the translated box art for the game across 24 languages, then uploading and configuring it in Steam

Follow the Fun has been developing tools to automate elements of the process that do not require human intervention, such as renaming and relocating assets. Putting the bees in place, however, is a significant undertaking, especially given that the games often cost $2-4. Admin work accumulates; automation and more hands on deck can be extremely beneficial, but people must be taught and tools maintained.

Follow the Fun once tracked the time they spent working on a single project from beginning to end, and it was the minutes and hours spent on seemingly insignificant tasks like spreadsheet organization, file maintenance, asset preparation/importing, data entry, or simply waiting for things to load that surprised them the most. “At the end of the day, it’s all time,” they added. “It’s something I think about a lot now when planning my projects.”Fortunately for them, the process is involved but not stressful. The lack of clear deadlines, along with the team’s experience in the pipeline they’ve developed, means they only need to maintain pace. The series hasn’t been a huge success, but the hidden object community on Steam is large enough that Follow the Fun has ardent fans—some of whom even send us photos of themselves playing the game with their families. After over two years of commissioned games, they’re considering how a future series could address the current one’s problems.

After meeting with Follow the Fun, I realized how terribly I had underestimated their project. I had fallen for the titling scheme’s humorous matter-of-factness, and I had assumed they had simply commissioned some bees! It’s an old trap to fall into: believing that just because something appears simple, it is simple. Much of the effort and labor in game production is concealed behind the flash and bang of the final project—we don’t understand that something that takes the user five seconds could take the developer five days.

Follow the Fun repeatedly emphasized the importance of their staff and the tools they’d created, as well as how the release cadence of two or three games per month was only feasible thanks to their covert effort. It turns out that what they say is correct: it takes a village to commission some bees.

SourcePC GAMERS
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