I made a game. Here’s what I learned:

About a year ago I came across a low point in life, along with quite a bit of extra free time. I felt the need of some direction, a goal to strive towards. So I decided to pick up this little thing called Unity. It was free and easy enough to pick up, so I just went for it.

I started off small, not considering the possibility of actually making anything full-fledged, made to be released to the public. So I tinkered around for a little while, getting half-way through some of the tutorial projects provided by the people at unity, and I even made my own little creation involving a blue sphere clumsily rolling around on a green rectangle.

    The beginning

After a few weeks of this aimless experimenting I finally decided to make something playable. I spent a few days putting together a few sprite sheets of various characters and objects in gimp, watched a few tutorials about programming 2d platformers, and figured out a million little things about unity that seem so obvious in hindsight.

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About a month later I managed to put this stuff together. Not exactly a masterpiece, but I made something, and I was proud of it. Until this point I still had no clue what I wanted to do with this thing. I didn’t know if it was gonna be a platformer or a puzzler or maybe some sort of 2d walking simulator ( Except more like a crawling simulator, you are playing as a little green slime after all ). Which brings me to my first big shortcoming:

   1) Lack of focus:

It ended up being a little of each. At times it’s a platformer, other times a puzzler, sometimes it’s just a 2d walking simulator. And sometimes, I couldn’t even tell you what exactly it is. It’s got lots of set pieces, that I spent days coding, set pieces that have no real purpose, serving as an excuse to get the player from point A to point B. But that is often times how walking simulators pan out. At heart this is what this game ended up being about, walking around a bunch of weird environments while the story unfolds around you.

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I think I’ll avoid this in my future projects. Even though the lack of focus was, to an extent, intentional. In the beginning I just wanted to make things for the sake of learning. And I did learn, which makes it all worth it.

2) Bad assessment of scope:

In the beginning I didn’t even consider scope. I didn’t even seriously consider finishing this game and publishing it, that came sometime later. Despite this, I started coming up with my story. I still think it’s an interesting idea for a story, but the scope of it was way more than I could chew. On top of that, I wanted to build a whole bunch of set pieces and    game mechanic from the ground up. Again, this was for the sake of learning as much as possible about making games from the experience.

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At the end of the day, the story is there, and I did get around to a few interesting set piece moments that I’m quite proud of. I think the game is worth playing for that alone. The story is also there, although I feel like I didn’t do it justice. There’s a lot more to it than I had time to show.

   3) Shoddy foundation:

This one was unavoidable. I started off knowing next to nothing about programming a game. So some of my first scripts are of questionable quality to say the least. Those first scripts also happen to represent core aspects of the game, like the platforming. I think the platforming feels good, I spent a while working on it, and I think it’s important for a game to feel good. That being said there’s some bugs in there. Bugs that I couldn’t possibly predict. I tried fixing them, repeatedly, but with every band-aid solution I tacked on, a new bug would pop out.

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In the end, I got stuck with a few annoying bugs ( such as the player character getting stuck in the jumping state after hitting the ground ). They aren’t game breaking, but they are certainly annoying. And at this point, I just can’t seem to modify much in those core scripts without breaking half the game. Hopefully I’m gonna spend some more time bug testing the core systems, and maybe write some better code with what I learned over the past year.

   Real Talk

I made some mistakes, sure, but I made a game. It took me way longer than what I thought it would, but I made a game. It’s sort of weird, and maybe not even that great, but I made a game. And I think It’s pretty interesting, at the very least. It didn’t exactly blow up at 26 downloads as of the writing of this blog post, but from what little feedback I got,  it seems other people think It’s interesting as well.

And that’s what It’s all about. Picking a thing, doing it, failing, trying again and getting a little better with each try. And I’m fine with the fact that I spent a year making a game for 26 people to see. Because, even though it sounds cheesy as hell, It’s about the journey, not about the destination.

So, get out there, pursue your passion, even as just a hobby. If you don’t have one, just pick something and mess around with it, you will come out the experience knowing a little more about yourself. And don’t be afraid to fail. If you enjoyed yourself and you didn’t sell your house to do it, then there is no failing.

See you once I finish my next game, and thanks for reading!

 

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