September 30th, 2013

I figured that I should create a post explaining my goal of getting an Android/iOS game out by the end of the year.

In July I went to a game design lecture at South Bank University – I’d been curious about game design and felt compelled to go check it out. There were only about 15 of us there, but what I saw really opened my mind to what game design can be – it doesn’t have to be your standard platformer, FPS, MMO, or whatever other generic title you want to slap out next. The designers giving lectures weren’t much older than me, and were all extremely experimental with their design, looking at ways to remove game design from the computer screen altogether, and looking at innovative ways to communicate with players. I grabbed a beer with them afterwards and tortured them a little with my questions, asking about ways to get into it – they suggested giving GameMaker:Studio a shot. It’s a program which is great for people with little programming experience, but has a lot of room to expand and learn some pretty complex code. It recently proved its potential through the release of Hotline Miami which was made using it.

Now, why does game design appeal to me so much as a designer? It’s pretty simple – I love working with moving image, photography, sound design, music, and graphic design in general. Games tend to use all of these things. How fucking awesome is that?! On top of that, you also get the bonus of it being fundamentally interactive – whatever you create, you get to release it into the wild for everyone to experience. I’d like to write a post on this in future – there’s too much to get out on the subject, I’d like to cut it short in this post.

Throughout July and the beginning of August I watched and completed all of Shaun Spalding’s GameMaker tutorials, and frantically went on to starting (but not finishing) tonnes of mini-games and ideas for games, experimenting with what GameMaker has to offer and getting used to coding. At the end of August I was determined to see a game through, so I took part in Ludum Dare – an event in which thousands of game developers build a game in 48 – 72 hours based around a central theme. You can see my entry here – the result was a mess of a game, awful mechanics and terrible communication (not to mention the bugs). Out of over 2,000 entries, it placed #29 for humour and #47 for graphics! I loved the experience, but wanted to make a real solid game – one that’s done right. So, without burning time over ideas I grabbed my favourite unfinished experimental build made in July and rebuilt it with mobile gaming in mind.

As a game, it’s certainly nothing special – it’s not innovative and it’s not experimental. What I’m really trying to do here is prove to myself that this is really something that I want to do. I mean, I’m 99% sure of it right now, but this challenge is to reassure myself that I can do this. I want the game to be a reflection of good design, solid game mechanics, clear communication, and I want it to be fun. I’ve done a bit of market research, and most of the games of a similar style are terrible. I’m talking fucking atrocious. Games which force you to perform a little PR for them before you can play, games which have absolutely no respect for their audience. I’d like this to stand out amongst them as a decent game.

Having a deadline set for the end of the year seems like a pretty good idea for it – it seems doable considering the current pace of things (although I don’t know how much this will change once university gets going), and I expect that the end of development will be a mad rush – I’d rather do that in the xmas holidays than whilst trying to juggle a tonne of uni projects. On a side note, I’m hoping that if this release generates a small income I’ll use it to fund my final major project – I’ve started thinking about some ambitious ideas, and I wouldn’t want money to stop me from doing the project that I want to do.

So, that’s about it – I’m learning SO MUCH working on this game, and the research for my dissertation is assisting development so much too. I’ll start posting process posts on it soon. Oh, ‘Hero Time’ is the name of the game. That’s what the blog post title is about.

On a side note, I really need to begin populating my blog with pictures a little.