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Finding Motivation to Finish a Game

October 27, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s been a long time since I posted, so here’s a related joke.

Q: How many people does it take to NOT develop a game?

A: Hundreds. One person to not develop it and hundreds to make all the 
   games and books that the one person plays with instead of working 
   on their game.

I’ve been slowly adding things to the game over the last 4 months, but I just couldn’t work up the motivation to make a post until now. I’ll try to post several updates in the near future talking about some of the difficult or fun bits of code I wrote in the last few months. This post is just to talk about the ups and downs of seriously working on a video game.

I have heard many people say that the most important thing for an indie developer to do is to release your games. They said that you will want to keep working on your game until it’s perfect. They said you will have trouble seeing past all the flaws in your game. That you’ll never think it’s good enough. I thought they were all full of shit.

I was wrong.

I went into working on this game saying that I had a reasonable set of features I wanted to include. I was so proud of the first few steps, that I didn’t think I’d ever feel ashamed of showing my game to the public. But as I got closer and closer to having an actual “Game” on my hands, I started to feel less and less confident. When you’re still thinking of your game as a prototype, everything that isn’t broken is a point of pride.

PurePride

Pure Pride

As soon as you start thinking about releasing it, every single flaw sticks out like a sore thumb.

LevelSelectionShit


GameMenuShitComplete Crap

At some point, you have to learn your limits. I can get the buttons and text to look a little better. I can add sound effects and find some music to play during the game. I can even animate the sprites that I currently have. But I can’t make sprites that look much better than they currently do. I can’t design a beautiful looking menu. I can’t write a stirring soundtrack that everyone will want to listen to.

So that’s what my game is going to be. Coherent looking menus, crappy but functional sprites, basic sound effects, basic music and a decent selection of levels. It’s a first game. It will work and I’ll be happy with it. And I will get it released.

I’ve been working on my own game instead of playing other people’s games the last week or two, and I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made in that time. The best advice I can give to anyone else that gets stuck on their first game is to keep pushing through it, because it gets better. My game isn’t ready yet, but I’ve accepted the limits of how good it’s going to be and I know what it’s going to take to get it finished.

Loving Life in Savannah

March 10, 2013 1 comment

I moved to Savannah, GA about a month ago and have been loving life in the city. We’re right in the heart of downtown, so I can walk to everything. Just filled up my gas tank for the first time in a month.

Today I went for a 3 mile walk over at Wormsloe Historic Site. It was a sunny 70 degrees and I’ve got a bit of a sunburn from spending 2 hours in the sun yesterday.

Now that I’m properly settled in, I’m hoping to spend some regular time working on my games again. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for what I’d like to work on in the future, but I feel like I need to finish one of my existing games first. The tower defense game is what’s currently on my list. I’ll try to keep the updates coming.

Categories: Personal Tags:

I’m Back

May 1, 2012 2 comments

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and I think I can finally share what else I’ve been doing outside of work and programming my game. My wife and I are preparing to move out of state.

We’ve both lived in the Ann Arbor, MI area our whole lives and we’re making plans to move to Savannah, GA this summer. So most of March was spent getting the house ready for sale, applying for jobs and looking at apartments. We took a trip down there in the beginning of April, but weren’t able to anything productive besides relax. I think I’ve finally recovered from all the prep work we had to do and I’m ready to return to game development.

As far as the game goes, my reprogramming from scratch is nearly complete. The game is playable once again by two players and I’m in the process of rewriting the game’s AI. Once that’s done I’ll post another video (this week, I promise). So far I’ve added the ability to switch stages to the game and made it so you can move the screen with a click and drag instead of moving the mouse to the edge of the screen.

Upcoming list of changes:
-Auto end turn after all units have moved
-Highlight units left to move, darken units after turn complete
-Add zombie units to game
-Create unit images/animations (could be a while on this one)
-Add music/sound effects (trying to add temp music/effects soon)

Categories: Game Update, Personal

No Work Done in a While

February 29, 2012 1 comment

So…. not much work has been done on my game lately. I’ve been really busy with house repairs being done last week into this weekend and my car needing to be fixed late this weekend up until today. On a positive note, I’ve been so exhausted when I get home that I’ve been getting 9-10 hours of sleep every day this week. So this weekend I should be good to go.

Also, it seems that computer issues are catching in my house. A week after I recovered my game code with the decompiler, my desktop died. I’m planning on using the desktop to create my game art, so this is yet another set back. I’m going to need to reinstall Windows XP on it, so I’ll do that once I get my installation disk back from my friend. Fortunately, I installed Windows XP on a separate partition from all my data in case of such an issue. So I’ll also start working on my game art this weekend.

I’m not going to wait this long for my next update. I promise something will be done for my game this weekend and if I can figure out my video capture software, I’ll post a video on Sunday.

Doctor Who and Programming Time

February 3, 2012 Leave a comment

I just found that my local library has the first two seasons of Doctor Who available on DVD. I watched the third season a few months ago and loved it and thought it was the only season they had. I’m wide awake and ready for some programming. I think I’ve got one more class to program and the game will be functioning again.

So it’s 9:30 and I’m settling down in front of my desk with season 1 of the new Doctor Who and FlashDevelop to finish my game prototype. Screenshots to follow later tonight, maybe even a video.

Programming Part-Time

January 31, 2012 2 comments

So I know I haven’t made much visible progress on my game since I started this blog. And I think it’s due in large part to working on it part time.

Since going back to work after the new year, I haven’t had a normal sleep schedule. I got used to staying up until 2 AM every night instead of my typical 11 PM. I’m finally starting to get back to my “normal” schedule. But until now, this terminal sleepiness has made programming after work difficult.

This is a situation a lot people get into when they start trying to start up a business or project on the side. A full-time job can be really draining and after one and a half hours of commuting and eight and a half hours at work, the last thing on anyone’s mind is putting in work on a side project. The only thing keeping me working on my game is my intense passion for games in general and my strong desire to turn this into a career.

While I don’t expect to quit my job and start developing flash games full-time in the near future, releasing and selling my first game is the first step towards that goal.

Even if I produce a mediocre game that sells for $50 after I put a couple hundred hours into it, it’s still worth it. If I want a career in video games, having released one will help. If I want to turn this into a business, having released a game is necessary. Even if all I do with this is use the experience to improve my programming skills, it’s worth it.

So I’m resolving to get this game finished and ready for sponsorship on Flash Game License by May 1 of this year. If I have to rush the last bit and release a game that’s barely more than a prototype, I’ll do it. Stay tuned over the next 3 months to follow my progress. You’ll know as I get closer to the deadline whether I’m going to release a crappy game or something actually worthy of playing.

Let me know what you think of my goal in the comments. Is it not ambitious enough? Too ambitious? Should I instead follow the advice of this article on Lifehacker and schedule some time each week to work on my game?

The Story So Far

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

As this is my first post, I believe an introduction is in order. My name is Kyle McGuffin and I’m in the process of programming my first published game ever. I’ve got a degree in Mathematical Economics from the University of Michigan which started me off working as a budget analyst and a web developer. I’ve enjoyed playing video games since I was 4 and have always thought that a career as a game designer/programmer would be fun. This is the start of me realizing that dream.

For my first game I’ll be using Flash to create a web based game. I started off by using the Flash Shootorial on Kongregate to learn the basics of Actionscript 3. I don’t know how much money is really in flash games, but I’ve heard several stories of people publishing games through Flash Game License so I figured it was a good place to start. My game will at least be published, even if it’s not very profitable.

My current idea is a turn-based strategy game in a medieval setting. The gameplay should be similar to Advance Wars, but with a completely different set of units since it’s medieval instead of modern. So far I’m planning on calling the game “Medieval Tactics” with a possible subtitle depending on if I add zombie enemies or not. Here’s a screenshot of the game so far.

The First Image of My Work

Most of the artwork is temporary and lifted from Google image searches. I have a friend that is working on the actual art assets for the game. Until those are ready, the placeholder images will have to do.

I’ll try to post my progress regularly. Hopefully you find my insights into creating a game for the first time interesting.

Categories: Game Update, Personal Tags: