Methods to my Madness

Even though I don’t have any specific plans right now* for the work I’m putting in to learning modern game development tech, that doesn’t mean there’s no plan in general.

I’m not doing any of this for commercial gain. This is something I’ve wanted to do for about as long as I can remember, and it’s something I have done for short periods of time.

I guess my first completed (but not distributed for obvious reasons!) game was an Asteroids clone for the Commodore 128. In the 90’s, I was an animation programmer for a now-defunct game company; we made 2D sports games, and I coded the player movements in C++. Somewhere in the first decade of the 2000s, I was doing 3D art with tools like Poser and Bryce, and I even spent a grand on some 3D engine of the era that I never really learned how to use. I doubt any of this makes me any better prepared for modern game development, but it tells me it’s not a passing fad but a lifelong interest.

While commercial gain is neither my motivation nor my goal, I do understand that games, if they’re good and well-marketed, can result in income.

So if I’m going to make games anyway, why not at least think about doing a few things along the way to make me a little better prepared if I end up with something good on my hands? That’s why I’ve taken some steps like the dev log site and the YouTube channel; it’s one way to slowly get some attention while I’m learning so that maybe someone will notice if I ever release a game.

Knowing My Limits

I’m enjoying it on many levels; it’s hard to explain. I’m not so motivated by a particular end-product as I am finding it to be the best coding environment I’ve worked in. By that, I mean…

What could be a detriment for me is the minutia. For example, say I do all the work and spend all the time figuring out how to animate a character swinging a baseball bat. If, then, I needed to do the same for a character throwing a football, swimming, or some such, the latter would seem tedious. I love figuring things out, but I’ve never had a ton of patience for repeating the same thing over and over just to get to an end goal. So this is something I need to be aware of and plan for ways to handle.

One great thing about using a tool like Unity is that there are so many options already, many for free and others at least affordable, that can remove some of the repetition and make the process much more manageable for small teams and solo developers.

The Extra Things

A multimedia creative project like a game involves a lot more than just code. I don’t know about making models, and I’m pretty sure art is off limits for me, but I could make the music. I’m not going to, though.

For all models, backgrounds, music, sound effects, etc., I’m planning to use paid or free resources that are licensed appropriately. If this side project were to start generating significant income, then I’d reevaluate; hiring people might be an option at that point. For now, though, this seems like an effective way of keeping the workload manageable.

Dealing with that “*”

I said, “I don’t have any specific plans right now,” with an asterisk. There are some pretty decent game ideas in the pipeline, though. I don’t want to jump into anything too serious just yet, though, because this is my creative endeavor, something that restores me; I don’t want it to be overly frustrating because I tried too much too soon. (I also don’t want to screw up a good idea with bad implementation!)

There are a bunch of gaming-related quotes on the front page of the sites, and this is one of my favorites:

I’m a hardcore gamer and would never let you down by designing a crappy title.

– John Romero

I don’t want to let myself down with a crappy title either.

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