I am proud to say that I completed 12 games in 12 months as a part of McFunkypants’ OneGameAMonth initiative. As a bonus I also finished among the top 10 in the high scores (at least at the time of writing this).
It has been the best thing I’ve done for my game dev career, even taking me to a gaming expo (EB Expo) where I shared my games with the world.
It was not easy. I doubted myself often. I got stressed. But all that was worth it and despite temporarily feeling otherwise, I had a lot of fun.
If you haven’t checked out the site, go do so now. If you’ve signed up already that’s great! If you’re uncertain, I’m here to help (hit me up on twitter if you need a chat I’m happy to :D) Either way, hopefully these tips will help you to achieve your goals!
1. Don’t beat yourself up
No every idea you have or project you take on, will be the best thing since sliced bread. Your goal should be learning and self improvement. If all you learn for the month is that an idea won’t work in the long run, that’s great! At the very least you’ve got a proof of concept that you can submit for the month and move on to the next.
2. Start small, start simple
There is no time for elaborate design docs (unless you’re working on a iterative idea of course), as much as I love them they will just eat up time. The way that works best for me is two to-do lists.
One list is marked as ‘necessities’ and is reserved for the guts of the game (think enemy spawning, player movement, health etc) basically the stuff that makes the game a game.
The second list is ‘desirables’ and is full of stuff you want to add if you get the time (this varies from experience level but might include, high scores, sound, visual effects). Eventually you’ll find yourself automatically moving things off the desirable and onto the necessity as your skills improve.
3. Have fun
If you aren’t having fun, take a break. If that doesn’t work, maybe rethink your approach or get a second or third opinion. If all that fails you might need to rethink the idea. Is a game that is no fun to make going to be any fun to play? Your best work will come when you are enjoying yourself and that will come through in the final product.
4. Always ask for feedback
Players can help make games great. If they don’t enjoy something most of the time they will tell you. I always find this step hard, particularly when fellow game devs are involved but it is an important step towards improving yourself and your games. You don’t need to take everything on board but consider where people are coming from and see if you can offer your own solution in your next iteration. The best way to get good feedback is to share your games with the universe. This year I’ve started using GameJolt and it’s great!
5. Let things happen naturally
Stuck without an idea? Days getting away from you? The best thing I found for me was to remove myself from my workspace/ work state and relax.
An idea will come when it comes; you can’t force it. Trying to do so will likely end in a grumpy game dev. I always keep a notepad ready (the notepad on a smart phone is a handy tool) for any ideas I might have whenever I might have them. Also, if you’re fretting over deadlines don’t worry about cutting stuff. You are better off making important areas great than including stuff that will bring the whole work down (the necessity and desirable list is not set it stone, move things around as you see fit).
6. Ask for help
The #1GAM community is lovely. They will happily help if you need it. Whether it be a coding problem, design issue or art dilemma, someone will be able to help you!