Game projects tend to be quite a time consuming job.
You start with a simple hunch, sparkled in the most unpredictable moment of the day. You continue building upon and developing this idea. Then you start the development phase, and here the things become messy; if you are not driven and focused enough you’ll soon end in losing interest (once the most significant and challenging parts have been faced). Finally the game will be left unfinished for good.
Completing a game is not an easy task, indeed.
I have always a lot of ideas on games I’d like to develop, mostly because I love almost any kind of game. The old-fashioned 2D games, however, are by far my favourite one; name a game type and you’ll hear myself saying “I would like to develop one”!
So, I’m taking up to the challenge; I will try and develop one game a month for a year, no matter what.
There are going to be severable interesting benefits in this.
As I said, I love almost any kind of 2D games and I always did found very difficult to concentrate on a single project while not blaming on not having enough time to try and develop also another (different) type of game.
A month sounds like a reasonable time span. Long enough to experiment with several aspects of the game type of choice. Short enough not to get bored to death of it (and begin thinking about something else to work with).
Having such a short deadline will force me not to (over) define features. The game need to be completed in the month time frame. Everything need to be done very quickly (also game art), secondary features are to be kept at a minimum. Stop putting cool unnecessary things and re-organize the code once again.
In order to save precious time, I’m going to do something very unusual for me, too. That is, I’m going to adopt and use a third party engine. I’ve always preferred to code the game-engines all by myself; mostly because I simply love to develop them, but also because I never found any third-party engine that suited my needs. However, due to the nature of the challenge, I won’t be using my (yet to be finished) latest game-engine but an existing one. Among the many, I found LÖVE to be quite interesting with all the (basic) set of features I need: compact, reasonably fast, script-based and multi-platform. Oddly enough, the engine appears to share it’s basic structure and architecture with the engine of mine (although I made different choices for the lower level APIs and the Lua encapsulation) and in a way I feel comfortable at first with it.
Perhaps, as I progress with my own engine in the months to come, I’ll possibly switch and use it… but, for now, let’s stick with LÖVE.
I’ve also devised a basic one-month-long week time schedule. During the first week I will collect ideas for the game and define its scope. On the second week I will start coding, without any idea reorganization. Then, on the third week, I will perform the first real game-play tests in order to refine the game mechanics and the assets to give the game consistency. On the last fourth week I will put the final touches and “ship” the game.
If everything will end up successful, on my next birthday I’ll end up having quite some finished games and ideas in the sleeve.
So, just to recap my own rules for the challenge:
- stick to the plan and complete a game each month;
- learn and use a third-party engine;
- keep the assets (art, effect, and such) budget at a minimum;
- avoid excessing over-engineering, keeping the game mechanics simple and effective;
- experiment the various game types (adopting, if possible, a different game type each month);
- have fun.
In the next days I’ll present the tools of choice (other than the already mentioned engine).