Making a game is easy. There, I said it. Anyone can make a game, literally anyone. Just watch: I'll think of a number between one and 100. Then you guess it. Ready? Guess! Highlight for answer: 38. Did you get it? Maybe you did, maybe you didn't. The point is, making a game is easy. That game above could then be expanded on, modified, or completely reconstructed to form another game (A good gamedev exercise I might add). If you think I'm being a bit loose on my definition of a game, then let's make it a bit more specific.
Making a video game is easy. It's still true. Nowadays you can make a game in less than an hour with a youtube video and an easy drag and drop engine. There you have it, a video game, and it was quite easy to make. Sure, it's a clone of another game, and hundreds if not thousands of people will have roughly the same game, which leads me to my next point.
Making a video game is easy, making a good video game is hard. This is where things start to get tricky. In order to have a good game, you have to spend time coming up with a good idea, spend time creating it, spend time polishing your game, and spend time fixing your game due to feedback. In addition to all of that time spent making the game, there's also all that time spent doing the small tedious things. For example, getting the GUI set up perfectly, or balancing your game mechanics. Things that of course will make the game better, but no one really wants to do them. They'd rather do the more fun features and spend all development and time making that one mechanic entertaining and enjoyable.
Making a video game is easy, making a good video game is hard.
As a result, the game never gets finished. Sure, you can play a sample level, but it just kind of starts when the game starts. There's no menu, no instructions, no real end. It's more of a hacked together demo than a game. Players don't like playing those games (at least those who don't know where gamedevs are coming from).
If making a good video game is hard enough, finishing a video game can be the hardest thing a developer ever has to do. The developer has to say to themselves: "This game is fantastic, it's my crowning achievement, it's my gift to humanity, etc." But no dev wants to release a game, unless they know it's perfect. Which, unfortunately, can never happen. There's no such thing as a perfect game. You aren't going to please everyone. But devs can sometimes hold onto their games forever, simply because, "it's not ready yet."
So why does this matter? And why am I writing about it? Well first, let me formally introduce myself.
My name is Ryan D Krause. I've been making games for close to 6 years now, and I've been making good games for 0. I've recently graduated from college, but while there, I spent 4 years as a part of a game development club. It was fantastic. Talking about games, making games, playing games, it's all there. One thing that the club did a lot was game jams. You know, making a game over the course of a weekend. A ton of fun. In my classes, I had the opportunity to make video games, some of which even won some prizes over the years. I worked with it all, down to nitty-gritty C-ASCII art games, up to Microsoft's Hololens games.
There's an issue with all of the games I've made though. They're all incomplete. They had enough to show my knowledge of games, and definitely enough to pass (please don't call my school to take my diploma away), but they weren't finished to the point of showing the world. For example, I made roughly 6 or 7 game jam games, just trying out new ideas. They're messy, hacked together, and they aren't completely polished. The games for other classes were created with a demo in mind, with myself or a classmate there to walk through a hard-coded game experience to avoid bugs. Games I made in my own free time followed the same pattern. They were enough to try and idea out, but never fully completed and released. If I were to introduce myself, I would say:
"Hi, my name is Ryan D Krause, and I make the greatest games that you've never seen."
Without sounding too arrogant of course.
I would love to introduce myself as this though:
"Hi, my name is Ryan D Krause, and I make the greatest games that you've probably played."
Obviously, it'll take some time to get to that point, but baby steps. So let's fix the problem!
I identified my problem to 3 things:
1. I enjoy coming up with cool ideas for games.
I mean, who doesn't? Who doesn't think, "Man, that would be a cool game to play," and see if they can do it? The issue with that is I ONLY focus on the cool ideas for development. The other stuff like menus, music, and other "game feel" elements take the backseat.
2. I'm an indie developer with no deadlines and no expectations.
Obviously, I don't have to release anything ever, because no one is looking for anything from me. Anything I want to publish I can, and if I don't want to, I can just "delay" it for another two or three years.
3. My ideas are too big
This is something that I know a lot of people struggle with. This does extend from problem #1 I feel though. When I come up with a small idea, it just keeps growing and growing to keep adding to the fun, and it eventually just collapses on itself.
After a bunch of reflection, screaming into the void, and waffles, I think I've found a solution to my problem: the One Game a Month challenge.
It's got pretty much everything I'm looking for. It's got a deadline to keep me on track, it's got a theme to help me narrow down my ideas, and it's got a cool little community built up around it.
That's pretty much it. I'm going to keep making games for as long as I can, but I think it's about time I start finishing them. I hope you'll join me on my game dev journey. See you around