July 27 2019
It has been almost a year since the last article I wrote on this blog. This year has been one of the busiest I ever had. After last year’s game jam, I decided to try going serious about making games. I asked for a part-time job and planned to make a game that could be sold within a year. This was intended to be a test to see if it would be a viable option to start making games full time. I started to make a survival/management game where the player program drones to provide food to a small group of humans in a contaminated environment. This project started in October and after two months, I was able to do this:
Then, I had to go through some difficult events regarding my family. I paused the project for some months. When I began working on the project again, I spent a few more weeks trying to achieve my initial goal: make a game within a year. However, I started to feel that the project was not going into a direction that would lead to a good game. When I looked back at Paperboy Droid, a game I made for a 60 hours game jam, I felt bad because it seemed a better game than the one I worked on so hard for weeks. From this observation, I tried to understand what happened and to choose what to do about the project and my plans for the future.
The first thing I realized is that I didn’t have (and still don’t have) the skills to finish a fully polished and complete game. I’m far better at prototyping and making small epic games.
The second lesson is that I didn’t follow a good development pattern for such a big game project. I spend too much time on making decent assets and maintaining good code quality. Instead, I should have prototyped a smaller game with only core features and fake assets. I did this mistake because I wanted to show my game early in the process and I was scared to be misjudged if the quality was not good enough. I also had the pressure of having only 1 year to finish the game (after one year I would need revenues) and I wanted to make a game wide enough so it could generate revenues and make me proud of it. It made me think I had to avoid rework and focus on what could be shipped in the final game. Now, I know I would have invested my time wisely by focusing on what matters most: core gameplay features to assert that the game idea is viable.
So, what’s next? There has been a lot of changes in my life lately. I figured out that my job was not as exciting as it was before. Moreover, this situation lasted for over a year and it was impacting my whole life in a bad way. Fortunately, I received a very exciting job offer just at the right time. More fortunately, I seize this opportunity. Now, I’ve worked there for one month. It will be a fulltime job, but it gives me a lot of energy so I will continue to work on personal projects, without pressure, and without any other objective than excitement and fulfillment.