Sunday, May 26, 2013

Still Ticking

A couple years ago when I started really digging into the gaming scene and trying to get familiar with other game developers by their blogs, I found it odd that so many seemed to disappear or otherwise fall off the face of the earth. A couple years older and wiser, and with some game development experience under my belt, I now know why.

For me, my regularity in posting drops off when I'm busy in a development cycle. The logic goes something like this: Why should I write about my game when I can be developing my game? Why write a blog post when I could be otherwise writing code for the game? Even when my fellow collaborators continued playing a ton of other games, I had trouble playing anything because I couldn't seem to justify spending any spare time NOT writing code for the game I was working on at the time. You see, the problem is balance. Especially as an indie developer where my time was already split between my 40+ hours per week day job and family, precious little development time would often occur after hours (10pm to 2am, sometimes 3am... ish) a couple nights a week. I think I just got burned out a little, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happens to others as well.

But I'm not complaining. I'm thankful for the 2-year experience I had working with some really cool artist friends on a tower defense game. In fact, today I was (finally) able to load it up again and take a look at what we had accomplished. Of course, looking at it now, somewhat removed from when I had written a lot of the code, it was a lot easier to see the imperfections and how un-polished it was. It's very tempting to go back and try to make some of those old game mechanics work better. I've learned a lot about engine design since those days and I wish I could go back and redo the entire design, but I know it would take forever.

In the time since the tower defense game, I took a nice long break to just spend time with my family and unwind a little before diving into some Android development. I was really interested in creating a game people could hold in the palm of their hands. So I created a ball-jumping puzzler tentatively named Plane Runner, and it was an AMAZING feeling to run it on our Kindle Fire. Heck, even the simple Layout Views app that I posted about in my last post over a year ago was a blast to watch running on the Kindle Fire. And when we got a smartphone, it was even more sensational to play Plane Runner on that device. But again I started putting in too much after-hours time on the game, getting burned out again, and had to take another little break.

Whereas the tower defense game taught me a lot about collaboration with artists (and a sound guy!), as well as XNA and a variety of effects processing and creating a 3D game, Plane Runner has taught me a lot about creating a game for mobile devices (mind the garbage collector!) and how to better design a game engine, including but not limited to the use of a Scene Graph, better event management, and a component-based architecture. If you're at all interested in creating games for Android, I highly recommend Chris Pruett's Google I/O talk.

So that's just a little history on what's happened in the time since my last post. But I wanted to let everyone know that I'm still here. I'm still ticking, still developing (though now at a slower pace for the sake of sanity) and hopefully also still writing here from time to time. I am determined to finish Plane Runner, to have at least ONE completed game in my portfolio. But most importantly, I hope to continue growing and learning, and would encourage fellow indies to do the same. I now understand why some seem to have fallen off the face of the earth, but hey... it's never too late to make a comeback, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment