The Genesis of ‘The Walking Girl’: A Father-Son Duo’s Journey of Entrepreneurship and Expansion

In this process, the game is growing, and both the father and the son are growing as well.

Goose Father

At 7pm on May 14, 2024, Goose Father opened the live broadcast room. In front of the screen, he wore a black mask, his sideburns were cut very short, and his profile was long and thin. He leaned casually on the chair, with a water cup and a microphone on the table, like a guest attending an academic conference, but he looked up from time to time and responded quickly to all the changes around him – a barrage, a voice.

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The father paid special attention to the sound coming from outside the live broadcast room. It was his son talking, and the content was “commenting”, “supplementing” or “reminding” him. The live broadcast on that day was centered around the lucky draw for the peripherals of “God of War”, a two-dimensional action mobile game launched in October 2023. He “distributed benefits” to players in the live broadcast room, and on the wall behind him, there was a promotional picture of the “God of War” character.

In 1971, Goose Father was born in a small town in Jiangsu. He came to Beijing in the 1990s and worked in factories, government media, real estate, and education. Today, the nickname “Goose Father” is given to him by players of “The Walking Girl”. Correspondingly, his son is called “Big Goose”.

In the eyes of gamers, “The Walking Girl” is a “rare” game completed by the collaboration of father and son; according to the news circulating in the outside world, the division of labor between the father and son is very clear: the producer of the game is Big Goose, and the investor is Goose Father.

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“The Walking Girl” is not the first game they made

Big Goose doesn’t like to mention this. He didn’t agree to chat with me and asked me to “mention him as little as possible” – these requests were conveyed by Goose’s father. Goose’s father is responsible for everything other than game development, such as community operation and distribution. Unlike Big Goose, he is not reluctant to mention his and his son’s entrepreneurial history in the process, hoping to increase the popularity of the game.

In 2018, Goose Father and Big Goose started their business. At that time, they were two outsiders who knew nothing about the game industry. Goose Father had just retired from work, and Big Goose had just finished college. After a trip, the original plan to study in Japan and learn how to make games was changed. The two decided to start a company together to make games and learn through practice.

Five years later, the 2D mobile game “Gods of Speed” was created from scratch. In fact, from a team of only two people to the first finished product of “Gods of Speed”, the story behind it is not only a story of a father spending money to support his son's entrepreneurship, but also a story of the growth of a game development team with a reasonable staffing, a clear founder's motivation, and strong action. On top of that, there is also a 5-year period of growth that a father spent with his son.

Sky Box

For Goose Father, “making games” is not the result of a single plan.

In 2017, the gaming industry was still booming, and people had not yet anticipated the disaster of the suspension of game licenses. That year, Da Goose graduated from university and decided to make games.

Relying on his years of experience in traditional industries, Goose's father felt that Goose needed to “learn more about programming and game design” before he could better achieve his goals, so Goose decided to take the postgraduate entrance examination and study related majors. After failing the postgraduate entrance examination, Goose planned to study in Japan. Before leaving, the father and son were worried that “it would take a long time for them to see each other again”, so they went on a trip together. During the trip, they suddenly realized that they could start their own business and make games.

Although the idea came suddenly, it did not seem difficult to realize it for the father and son who were very proactive.

With his background in finance, Goose Father studied the financial reports of listed game companies and market analysis materials of the game industry, and believed that making games had sufficient returns at that time. Even though the game needed to apply for a version number, Goose Father did not back down. On the contrary, he felt that the state's control over the game industry marked that “an industry is in the transition stage from wild growth to healthy development”, and this stage is the best “time to enter”.

In addition, and more importantly, the father of the goose judged that “the goose has strong math and learning abilities and can learn by doing. The father of the goose has accumulated knowledge in finance, management and legal affairs, so the combination of the two is more appropriate.”

On this basis, Goose Father started the process of registering a company. Half a month later, the process was completed and the company was established. They still remember the day of establishment – October 16, 2018, which happened to be Goose Father's birthday. The company name “Sky Box” was given by Goose. It is the name of a rendering technology, which means “using a huge box or sphere to contain the scene, and then using rendering technology to treat this huge enclosure as the external environment of the scene to increase the atmosphere of the scene and the player's sense of immersion.”

They set up an official website for “Sky Box”

In a sense, the meaning of this name fits the attitude of the father and son towards “starting a business and making games”: to achieve the goal with an immersive and serious attitude. The most important thing is not success, but “atmosphere” and “sense of immersion”, or to put it bluntly, “process”.

After the company was established, the first problem they encountered was that they had very little knowledge about game development and didn’t know what the structure of a game company was. Because they had no experience, Goose’s father’s idea was very simple, “Get two people, make a game, throw it on the market to make money, and then continue to do it.”

Goose father recruited one planner, one artist and one programmer from the market. His recruitment criteria were simple. He believed that “as long as a person has good character, then ability – such as art – is nothing more than a matter of style. If you give him enough time, he can learn it slowly.” But soon, this traditional industry experience hit a wall.

At that time, they chose to make games on the mini program, but the result was “the products produced by the program were not good, we didn't like the art drawings, and the planners couldn't figure out how to make games.”

Today, Skybox's official website still displays a game they made in the early days of their business, “Animals Are Not Easy to Mess With”. When making this game, Da'e knew “nothing” about the engine. The programmer suggested using Cocos Creator, so he used it, but after using it, he found that the program could not achieve the scene destruction effect caused by battles. “If you want to make a pit, you can't make an arc, all are square.” Goose's father felt “very depressed” and asked Da'e to try to see if he could write it. As a result, Da'e relied on his mathematical skills and learning ability to learn the front-end code and wrote it.

Based on this, the goose father thought that the program had “weak front-end capabilities”. Later, he asked the programmer to write online code, but the other party still couldn't figure it out. In the end, he still relied on the big goose to learn the backend, and found a “NetEase open source server architecture” for reference. During the 2019 Spring Festival holiday, he “got it”. After the Spring Festival, they already had 3 programs, “but they all didn't work”. With the efforts of the big goose, he gradually became a core technical personnel. Finally, the big goose led the team to make an online battle game like “Tetris”. The goose father thought it was “very high-level”, but after being on the small game platform, he found that “although it was fun, it couldn't make money and it wouldn't be commercialized.”

The first official game they made was “Animals Are Not Easy to Mess With”, and some of the characters in it were continued in “The Walking Girl”

Goose's father wanted Big Goose to continue “adjusting” the game so that it could make money, but Big Goose “refused to do it”, thinking that “it's not his hobby, and he has no energy at all to make this product.”

What Big Goose really wanted to make was a game with a two-dimensional theme. After the two talked, Goose's father thought that Big Goose knew a lot about two-dimensional games and felt that “it could stimulate his enthusiasm for learning.” In addition, they had a deeper understanding of game development at this time and were gradually becoming more proficient in technology, so they decided to start the project of “The Walking Girl.”

At this time, the first problem they faced was the publishing license.

After deciding to make a two-dimensional mobile game, Goose Father spent a lot of time consulting senior practitioners working in Beijing game companies. Goose Father remembers that once, when he described his idea to a practitioner, the other party asked him “What should I do about the version number?” He didn't know there was such a thing. The contemptuous look on the other party's face at the time left a deep impression on him. Later, he invested a lot of energy to solve this problem, and “got help from noble people”, and it only took 8 months to get the version number.

The second problem is technology. When developing the game, because Big Goose was learning by doing, the team still lacked a boss who could “control” all the technology stacks. During an accidental recruitment session, Goose Father met a “technical boss” who lived nearby. This boss used to be a consultant in the research institute of a large company. After the two chatted, the “boss” praised Big Goose and came to Skybox with investment. After the “boss” joined, the technical strength and communication atmosphere of the entire team “got on the right track.”

As the development progressed, the role of the father in the team changed from “worrying about all the work other than technology” at the beginning to focusing on “community operation”. He felt that his strengths were “perseverance and not giving up”. He contacted various channels to list the product, and told more and more people about the story of his father and son's entrepreneurship, hoping to get care and support. The listing process on different channels was complicated, but he overcame them one by one, “all by himself”.

Despite this, there were still many unexpected events when the game was first released. After more than half a year of polishing, Goose Father felt that the quality of the game had stabilized and could be recommended to players. “When I see the current hot topics, I will leave a message, the purpose is to give our products more exposure. I didn't dare to do this before because our products are very bad.” Goose Father said. At that time, he wandered around B Station as the official account of the game, chatting with others, saying that he was the “boss” and inviting everyone to play “The Walking Girl”. “I used the most primitive 'brick-moving' method, just like standing at the door to pull people in the catering industry, using this method to invite friends to play our products.”

Goose father believes that he has an obligation to the players. This idea comes from his “customer value of doing education industry”. It is also under this “traditional” thinking that he often urges the big goose and “big bosses” to fix bugs on behalf of the players, and sometimes they even have disputes. He is 53 years old this year, and he doesn't sleep for a long time. When he is awake, he basically stays online and chats with players. Many players are interested in people of his age, and they talk about a lot of things.

In addition, most of the time, Goose Father will check and settle accounts with various channels. He is responsible for the launch of the game on 17 channels. Today, including Goose Father, the game team of “God of War” has 10 people. Other members feel that “he is the investor of the game team and the bridge between players and the production team.”

emotion

At 7:30 p.m. on May 14, Goose Father’s live broadcast was still going on.

The account used for the live broadcast is the “official account” of “Star Walker”. Most of the players gathered in the live broadcast room have become friends of Goose Father. Goose Father turned on a very “two-dimensional” song – “Koi Sailor Moon”. Some people said it was “too old”. He changed it to “Castle in the Sky” by Joe Hisaishi, and immediately someone said it was “too sad”.

After more than half a year of polishing, the rating of “The Walking Girl” on the game platform has increased.

Occasionally, new players would come in and ask him “Are you the game producer?” The goose father would reply: “Hey, this game was made by the big goose, I can't control him, I just do some work and entertain him.”

One year ago, Goosefather was still the most core member of the game team. This coreness did not lie in his game development ability, but “he needed to stay in the company, even if he did nothing.” Goosefather believed that if he was not in the company, “the team might collapse immediately, disband immediately, and might not be there the next day.”

Since starting his business in 2018, Goose Father has stayed with Big Goose with this attitude.

In the early stages of his business, it was his character that kept him going: “If I want to do something, I will never give up before I see results. I must do it well, no matter how difficult it is, I have to do it. This is my character. I will not give up easily.”

In the later stage of the business, when the development of “The Walking Girl” was on track and Goose was polishing the game, Goose Father began to enjoy communicating with players. Some of these exchanges were related to the game, some were not related to the game, and more were about discussing life. He used his life experience to make friends with players, and felt satisfied from the players' concern, “People are willing to talk to me because they give me face.”

The ultimate motivation behind the five-year startup is Goose Father's concern for Big Goose. He described this concern as “hoping to see Big Goose grow up to be able to stand on its own feet and produce good enough works.” In this process, Goose Father believes that what he can do is to accompany or give guidance, and then let Big Goose “recognize the problem” by itself.

In my opinion, “The Walking Girl” is far from perfect and needs to be polished for a long time

“The Walking Girl” is not the end. Goose's father feels that he will continue to be with Goose until Goose “grows up enough”, but he did not explain what degree is considered “enough”.

In the past five years, Big Goose has also influenced Goose's father. In the live broadcast on May 14, Big Goose was actually outside the door listening carefully to every word Goose's father said, listening to him talk about his past and Big Goose's childhood. In a sense, this is the way this father and son who “don't talk much after get off work” communicate – Privately, Goose's father told me that the whole live broadcast was actually “said to Big Goose, whether other people listen or not is not important.” After a while, the time was 8 o'clock. When Goose's father talked about Big Goose's graduation from university and his failure in the postgraduate entrance examination, he suddenly stopped talking and continued talking after a long time.

“Da Goose said something that made me 'break down'.” He explained to the players in the live broadcast room, but he didn't say what the sentence was. Similarly, he didn't tell me this sentence, but only said to me the next day: “Da Goose has very deep feelings. I am very happy about what he said during the live broadcast… Only between us, father and son, know what it means.”

In this respect, the personalities of the father and son are very similar. When the father mentioned his son, he would use many words like “growth” and “experience”, but rarely expressed feelings. The only time he talked about “feelings” during the live broadcast was when he said “Looking at the beautiful mountains and rivers of the motherland, let the father and son cultivate a deeper relationship.”

Two people who were reluctant to reveal their feelings, with a somewhat awkward but very clear concern for each other, spent five years completing the development from small games to commercial mobile games. Compared with other entrepreneurial teams, their connection is very rare, but more solid.

The game “The Walking Girl” will continue to be developed, and the father of the goose will continue to “start a business” with the big goose. In this process, they have completed the growth of the game, and also completed the growth of both the father and the son.

(All characters in this article are pseudonyms.)

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