Developing a game by yourself

I believe adhering to agile and lean ideas during development is key. To create a successful first game, keeping it simple is the first thing you should think about. Creating a multi-player RPG with tens of worlds to explore will make you realize quickly how impossible it is to do with only one or two people on your team. If this is your first game and you want to finish and be able to expand on your ideas in the future after having experienced the full development cycle, you should create a game that has a few controls and not much to it. An example of this is our first game Squidz:

The game itself is simple. There are three collectors at the bottom of the screen. Your character, “Squidz” drops pearls down onto the collectors with one of three colors. The object of the game is to match the colors to get enough points to advance to the next level. Squidz is simple and may not seem to be entertaining but I know from my analytics that thousands of people in Norway play it every day. Again this is my concept of: “Just about anything you make will have an audience that will use it”. Squidz took more than 6 months to build while I was working a full time job and in the process of getting married etc.. So keep your own time in mind when you are building your game.

Create a minimum viable game. The hardest part of deploying a game in my opinion was figuring out everything needed to do to get from concept to release. My second release was much easier, so my advice to anyone who is making their first game is to create something fun but extremely simple to be able to understand what trials you will face in the process of releasing a game. Using my example of Squidz, we created a game that had 2 types of controls: move to 1 of 3 locations, and slash power ups. The power ups did things like speed up the game or give health. The point of creating Squidz was not to wow my users, but instead to learn how release and testing would go for a game so I did not mess things up with a game that I put a lot of effort in.

Make your game easy to update. When I say easy to update, make sure your descriptive enough with your code that you will be able to ignore it for a long time and come back to it ready to continue development. Instead of naming a variable “dt” (for delta time) name it “elapsed” instead. This is a descriptive name that will make it easy for you to understand your code in the future. In a main game loop try not to iterate through lists, if you need to find objects use hashes or spatial information.

Get friends to play your game. To realize if your on the right track you should know weather or not people will like your game. It is needless to say that you can use your friends to try your game out and tell you what to improve.

Make your first game international. It is a good exercise to make a game in which you can make your tutorial just pictures. To know your game is simple and fun its a good idea to have tutorials that someone who has not seen the game before could pick it up and play it just based on pictures.

Finally my last piece of advice related to game development... Finish the game. Seriously this is the place I see so many people fail. Someone will tell me they are working on a game and I follow their progress, when they finally have something to show, they stop working on it. If you feel that the game is getting boring to work on, find out how to make it more interesting don't give up. Release it.


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