Starter Projects FTW

“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”

— Mike Singeltary


I’ve learned so much from my spacy starter project, and the best parts weren’t even technical. I’d like to share a few of them with you.

Simple isn’t always… simple.

All of the advice that I’ve garnered from the many awesome YouTubers who share their indie dev experiences is to start with something small and simple. I tried… I really tried! But I still overshot, and in a way that I didn’t expect.

I wanted to capture the vastness and enormity of space but if you’re making a game, you need it to be playable. If you make it even fractionally like the unfathomable vastness of space, it’s too big for a game. So then you think, “I’ll just make wormholes or warp travel,” and then it’s just clicking on a spot and you’re there, and then you’ve lost the feel of “space”.

I realized that I was attempting to fix a problem that no game developer anywhere (to my knowledge) has been able to solve.

If your UI/UX sucks, your game sucks.

You might have a great game concept, epic code, and amazing graphics, but if the user interface is bad, people won’t enjoy the game. In a strategy or builder-type game, this means providing the right information to the player so they can make decisions without becoming frustrated. As I explored my space game, I realized that I had no idea how to do this.

Which brings me to my next point…

The simplest game is still complex.

Game development is hard. Really, really hard. It’s something you should choose to do if, like me, you’ve always wanted to do it and the process makes you happy.

Forget learning C# and Unity (or Godot or Unreal). You still need the creative impulse that makes you want to build worlds, put people in them, and tell their stories. You need a passion for it and the ability to do it.

Got all those things? Great! You still need to plan, even if your game idea seems stupidly simple. When you start trying to make your stupidly simple game, you’ll probably find out that it’s not… and I expect this is why experienced indie game developers tell you to start with something simple. It’s because what we, from the outside looking in, think of as simple… isn’t.

The bottom line.

This is shaping up to be one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in tech. It is also one of most interesting, captivating, and downright fun things I’ve done with my clothes on. There’s a part of me that thinks, “Why didn’t you do this sooner?” but then the rest of me realizes… it’s probably because I was doing other things, and those were important too.

Perhaps the most important thing that I want to remember throughout my game development journey is something I’ve learned to be important for life itself. Be in the moment and enjoy the process.

So far, so good.

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