To the TKS students reading this, let me preface by saying that this is about my 4th draft of this article. It is incredibly difficult to express the level of intensity that I experienced while making my first game. This is mainly due to how I’m a workaholic. To anyone who doesn’t know that means I work too much on my own accord. And I don’t want to paint myself in a bad light, but to discuss this you need to understand that anything as difficult as making a game from scratch, by yourself, while still learning how to use the software and program in the language, has its lows. I would argue that anything, especially game design, has its lows and the ability to work through those lows and work efficiently is the sign of a quality game designer, or whatever they are.
It started in March of 2020 when out of sheer boredom I decided to make a game with a very unhelpful friend, who will remain nameless; Harley. To anyone curious, it was a 4 player Co-op 2D auto scroller in the style of “Metal Slug”. When I started I had around 9 years of programming experience and assumed that it would be a challenging but rewarding experience, and as they always, say my word is law. I spent roughly six months working on it. To anyone who would like a copy please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, not virus 10/10 💯 🔥 👌 very safe copy, please note it is still in early access and donations would be much appreciated since I am unemployed. Please give me money. After about a month of development, I had 25% of the game completed. That sounds great, but there are still 5 more months to account for. For the remainder of the next 5 months, I got a total of no sleep while I worked on this game. When I started I understood the challenges that stood before me, but when you’re halfway through you feel as if it will never be done. At the time I would wake up at noon and work until five in the morning, then sleep for an hour, work again, then sleep for another hour at 11. It was then my current girlfriend was worried about my health, so I threw her into the sun. Around July we started working on basic levels and animations. After six months of feeling like trash, and working on levels, I woke up to notice it was September. So I made the smart decision to cut my work in half. I realized that if I could ship the four levels I have completed I would at least have something to show for my work. So I shifted focus from level and gameplay development, to concentrate on polish. So I hired an amazing art guy named Hunter Phonmixay who will remain nameless. With his help, we activated one of the last phases of development: backgrounds and assets overhaul. All the assets were made by me as placeholders, so we made new and improved guns, dirt, rock, and character models. The last thing I did was make a final boss. But unlike all the other work I didn’t feel stressed because I knew when I was done, I could take a break and come back fresh.
By the end of the month, we had finished polishing the last level and the boss. This is where the fun began. I spent a whole week playing video games and procrastinating. During this time I was attending a school program for game design and programming when a friend noticed my game’s exe file on my flash drive. Which he ended up copying and passing out to the entire class, who began to make illegal copies of my game. On the bright side, I got a lot of positive feedback and did a few bug fixes. My game “A Minute Of Your Time” now had a small following who were eagerly waiting for more updates. And although I still work on the game, I feel happy knowing that my work is enjoyed.
Now let’s discuss how to avoid this. First of all, although I used a planner to keep my ideas in one place and plan out what to do next when you have a novel worth of ideas it defeats the purpose, so the take away is to not only plan but also be realistic you’re not going to make a groundbreaking project the scale alone has only been accomplished by a team of hundreds. So instead start small, made a modular system that lets you add on in the future when you have more experience. With that in mind note that regardless of what you do, working on it will teach you. And it’s important to know that you’re always going to learn. For example, I’m currently working on my second game, where I had to teach myself how to use ray tracing and “Autodesk’s Maya”. So remember that you will always need to learn and that’s okay, and when you go back to the first project better, you will see how much you’ve learned. But if there was one thing to take away from this, that is to ask for help, outsourcing is good. If you’re doing all the work then things will slow down. If you’re modeling something while someone else is programming then two things get done at once. This is only exasperated by the more people you have.