I’ve had a few thoughts on what I could do for the upcoming year. There’s some areas I could work on to improve my software development, a range of different household tasks I could learn to do to keep a better home, or I could finally get around to learning a new language. I’ve already been trying to do those first 2 things for a few months, and that’s not something that’s going to change in 2015, and I don’t really a resolution that’s just more of the same (learning a language is something I’d like to come back to though). Instead what I’d like to do in 2015 is make a video game.
In the past I’ve tried to make a video game several times, both with friends and by myself, but for one reason or another they’ve slowly petered out and stopped. I’d like to make 2015 the first year where that doesn’t happen, and get something put together which I’m happy with. I will say that I’m not doing this with the intent to make any money from it. I don’t plan on creating the next Minecraft, and while I’d hardly say no to $2 billion, I don’t expect to make a single penny from it. This is purely for the joy of finally completing a game I set out to make, and to get enough experience doing if I ever do want to try this professionally.
So here’s how I’m planning on doing this. There’s a number of things that I need to sort out before I can get started. First off, I need a concept and a rough design for what this game will be. In the past I’ve heard of plenty about design bibles, and Game Design Documents, and while they certainly have their merits when you’re working with large projects with a hundred people working on them, the idea of one person doing that reeks to me of the same Big Design Up Front and Waterfall methods in software development that are pretty outdated. As I’m just a team of one, without any experience designing games it’s not only unnecessary, it’s also pretty wasteful. I can easily imagine spending weeks designing features for later in the year, but by the time I get there I might realise it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the game that’s been built. Skipping out on design entirely doesn’t seem sensible either though, so I’m going to take an iterative approach, which can be summed up along these lines.
- Analysis – Figure out what I want to do.
- Design – Work out how I’m going to do it.
- Implementation – Make it do it.
- Testing & Evaluation – Did it do what it meant to do?
I’ll be doing “sprints” of 2 weeks going through all these stages, although this number might change over time. I’ll also be putting together a roadmap of sorts with a list of features I’d like to create, and any pre-requisites needed, but these will be only speculative for all but the current and next sprint.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have hands-on experience with games design, so I need to do some research into game design theory, techniques and pitfalls. Some of this I’ll be basing off my past experiences with games, trying to take Id software’s original approach and making a game that I’d like to play myself. But there’s still a lot of things I just don’t know about. Doing a little research around the area already, a good start will be reading through James Schell’s The Art of Games Design, which has recently had a new edition released. After this I’ll be doing research on a case by case basis on any topics I feel unsure about.
I’ll also need to figure out how to use the all software involved in making this game. For the most part this will involve learning how to use Unity, which seems to be the go-to choice for a lot of free and professional projects. I’ll be working through courses on Digital Tutors, and filling in any gaps with various web articles and Youtube videos. There will be other work involved though, like putting together some basic graphics to make the game playable. I’m not much of a graphic artist, so I’ll need to do some research there to find out how to put together something that works well enough for now. By the end I’ll have to see what I can do about improving them, but the focus for me is getting something that works first, then make it pretty afterwards.
I’ll be posting updates every few weeks or so, depending on how well that particular sprint has gone. Most likely the first one will involve me learning to learn Unity and fleshing out the concept I have in mind.