Why I Failed my first game: Harsh truth of being a game developer

Why I Failed my first game: Harsh truth of being a game developer

Why I wanted to try out game dev

When I was a computer science major, I started personal projects to experiment with what I would be interested in the realm of tech. In college, I tried out a wide variety of things from Cybersecurity, data science, web dev, and system admin. During, the summer I decided to try game dev, pursuing it as a hobby instead of a professional game development career.

I remember playing Nintendo DS and PC games all through my childhood and into my teen years. I wanted the opportunity to expand my creative skills. I liked to write from writing fan fiction and short stories in high school.

One compelling reason to try game development is the opportunity to bring your creative visions to life in an interactive and immersive way. Here are the other reasons I wanted to create a game:

1. Creative Expression: Game development allows you to unleash your imagination and create unique worlds, characters, and stories. You have the freedom to design and shape every aspect of your game, from its visual aesthetics to its gameplay mechanics. It's a medium that combines art, storytelling, and technology, providing a canvas for your creativity.

2. Engaging and Interactive: As a game developer, you can craft captivating narratives and gameplay mechanics that can evoke emotions, challenge players, and provide them with memorable experiences. I want to create gameplay that players can choose to explore, and complete puzzles and challenges they can overcome, all while entertaining and immersing them in your unique creation.

3. Collaboration: Game development studios often involve collaboration with a diverse team of professionals, such as artists, musicians, writers, programmers, and designers. There are gaming communities that have a modding community. Mods are fan additions or modifications to an existing game.

4. Impact and Influence: Games have the power to impact and influence players in profound ways. They can entertain, educate, and even provoke thought. Through game development, you have the chance to create experiences that resonate with players, inspire them, or provide them with a new perspective. Whether you want to entertain, educate, or make a social impact, game development offers a unique platform to do so.

5. Diverse industry: The gaming industry continues growing rapidly, offering many opportunities. Anyone can create a video game, there are free and paid game engines available that anyone can work with. I can create a game in any genre and have the freedom to publish my game.

Game development provides a fulfilling experience. I want to share my stories with others and to push myself as a developer.

My first game dev challenges

I want to get experience building a video game even though it was a small project. During the summer, I was looking all over the internet to see which game jam or contest I could enter. I chose jsk13kGames. I knew JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, so why not build a web-based game? This was my first chance at game development. I had no idea to make a video game before

For the game, I wanted to do something simple and I chose to do a card-matching game. I started creating the assets in Inkscape and everything was going fine in the beginning. However, I had one problem - time management. When jsk13kGames started, I was in my senior year of college. The deadline for jsk13kGames was a month. Finishing my senior year of college was my main priority, in the end, the game I created was a buggy mess and I never made it to the deadline for submission.

I felt disappointed with myself for taking on such a project. Then I learned other solo devs entered jsk13kGames and didn’t make it to the submission in previous years, but tried again the next year. At least I tried to make a game. Was it complete? No, but I tried something new. It's been 3 years since I attempted jsk13kGames, I want to make a complete game this time.

Why it's Hard being a Solo Developer

It’s no surprise that being a solo game developer is difficult. In the field of so many indie games, it often takes months or even years to get a good quality game. Even at the end, I was my worst critic thinking “My game is awful, who is going to play it” although I spent months trying to craft a decent plot and game mechanics. The last thing I wanted was to publish a game that would be a buggy mess.

I also have so many story ideas and find it difficult to choose one. I have several story ideas from horror and dark fantasy to slice of life The only way for me to find out is to test the waters and keep creating content.

Finding community

My main problem is doing everything myself when creating a game. Now, there are so many free assets that can be used in games. Collaboration is even I have been on Slack, discord, and Twitter to find various game dev comminutes and projects.

I like to look for new indie games in development and progress for a game in development. This can range from the game trailers, artwork, and most importantly game demos. I’m aware that visual novels are a niche genre, but over the last decade, more Western indie devs have been developing visual novels. I’m happy that the visual novel genre has been gaining traction in the indie genre over the last couple of years.

What’s next

I got into playing otome games and visual novels as I got older, so I wanted to try creating one myself. I downloaded Twine and Ren’Py, an open-source game engine to create visual novels. I like Ren’Py because you can add Python scripts to the game. My goal is to return to open source and share my projects.

One of my goals is to participate in a game jam. A game jam is when anyone can create and publish a game that follows the theme of the host’s choosing. Each game jam has different themes and a game jam can last a few days to a month. Game jams are popular such as horror-themed game jams while others are much smaller. You can choose to participate in any game jam.

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Jamie Larson