Category: Blog

Game Development discouragement and what to do about it

I’ve been working on my asteroids VR game which has changed shape a couple of times already. Google has now opened the submission of Daydream apps to all developers so now we’re seeing more Daydream apps come online every day. My strategy was to get something done and released to Daydream before a glut of VR games saturated the store.

An idea for one of the scenarios in the game. A thief ship.

I still might be able to accomplish that, but I’m currently having difficulty as to what this VR game should actually be. What is the core game play mechanic? What are the rewards? Should there be locked scenarios? What kind of scenarios should there be? What should the user interface look like in VR? These are just a few of the numerous questions that have plagued me during this project. Trying find an answer to each of these and put it into code can at times be a long process. Even after you finish implementing something it doesn’t feel like you have accomplished much.

“If I could only code faster.”

“If only I had a better idea of how to implement feature A.”

“If I had half the talent of [big name game developer] I could already have this done.”

These are a few of the things that have popped into my head at times.  Here is the deal. Game development is hard. The ideas may come pretty easily and coding up a prototype to test the idea might not take too long. However, once you’ve settled on an idea and begin to tackle coding all the other stuff (user interface, save/load system, upgrades, rewards, in-app purchasing, web-site design, checks to make sure a user doesn’t crash your game), you begin to feel the weight of it all. As a single-person indie studio, you have to do all these things yourself not to mention sound design, music, marketing, building, packaging and releasing the game to x platforms.  I don’t care who you are. That’s a lot of stuff for one person to do. What’s more is you also have to resign yourself to not expect much (or anything) in terms of response to your game once it comes out. There are just so many games on all the stores now. Many of them free to play, but not all good. Most are junk, but it doesn’t matter because in this age of plentiful games, marketing is king. If you don’t have serious money to spend on it, you probably won’t get very far.  As a result, implementation of the answers you come up with to these questions that come up can become quite a slog.

Experiencing this ebb and flow of motivation and discouragement on whatever ‘main’ project I happen to be working on, I’ve come up with a schedule for my week. It’s designed to not hold me to that slog all day every day. I get breaks from the main project to go and create prototypes of other game ideas, etc. It also includes some production of programming tutorials as well as steaming game programming, and posting to this blog weekly. You’ll hear more about these other endeavors as they manifest. Until then. Try to stay motivated.

Posted in Blog, Development Tagged with:

My current VR plans plus a new game

It has been many months since my last entry here. I’m going to try to do a better job of being more consistent … maybe.  Well since then, “The Seed” interactive fiction experiment took a lot longer than I expected, and it’s still not done. I hope to return to it and finish what I started. I may work on it in parallel with some of my other projects. My main project right now is a Google Daydream VR app in which you operate a gun turret to shoot and mine asteroids, protect your base (which is located on an asteroid) from rogue factions. I have a very rough prototype working and hope to have something more to show in the next few months.

I think the timing for releasing a Daydream app is critical since the market is currently tiny compared to the current glut of mobile games. I considered (and still am) obtaining an HTC Vive, but at this time I think it is a bit too niche. Plus I wanted to get my feet wet with something that I feel might have a wider audience. We’ll see.

I saw a video of an excellent talk at GDC recently that caused me to detour briefly from the VR stuff to revisit one of my older games. I just finished a revamp of PixiCubes done specifically for Christmas. I’ve never tried releasing a holiday-specific game before so I’m interested to see if it goes anywhere. Of course, there is that giant hurdle that all indie games have to overcome, discoverability. I still haven’t figured that one out. If you’re interested in some Christmas picture puzzles, check out PixiCubes: Christmas Edition.

It’s currently available for PC,Mac, Android, and hopefully soon, iOS. I just submitted it to Apple for approval yesterday so we’ll see.

Posted in Blog, Development

Interactive Fiction with Inkle Studios’ Ink Language

Inkle Studios, the company behind Sorcery I-III and Around the world in 80 days recently released Ink, their scripting language for writing interactive narrative stories. That got me thinking about how much fun I had writing for my Ludum Dare 28 game The Seed.  My goal now is to expand that small game into a much larger interactive fiction piece using the Ink language. I have been working on this for the last couple of weeks, but with kids getting out of school, and other commitments, it has been difficult to find the time to write about it much less work on it.  With that in mind, this project will carry over into the middle of June and might require an additional two or three months realistically.  I’ve never attempted anything like this before, but I can see lots of places where this story could go. I’m not sure how much I’m going to be able to get done with multiple kids home from school, but I’ll just have to steal what time I can and see how things progress.

Posted in Blog, Development
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