Rabid Lion Games

2013 – Looking forwards

January 1st, 2013

And that was 2012. It was something of a consolidation year for me. I finished up my lighting tutorial series, completed my Masters, including a 6 month project writing a Garbage Collector which was my first medium size C++ project, and learnt a lot more about C++, OpenGL, DirectX, Box2D, assembly, programming, and computers in general.

One thing that was notable by it’s absence was any work on actual games. The main reason for this was that I spent a lot of time thinking about my motivation for making games, and what my goals were. I’ve always struggled with the design side of gamedev, not to mention art and audio. My strength has always been programming and solving interesting problems with code, and I’ve not pushed myself beyond that, generally accepting that I’m not a good designer, and treating game design as a means to an end (i.e. doing something interesting in code).

As a result, I all but concluded that I’d be better off trying to get a job at a AAA studio than I would be being an indie. That way I could focus on programming and get to a point where making games is the ‘day job’ much faster. If that was my goal than my focus needed to be on creating an impressive and polished portfolio, rather than fun, interesting games.

I’ve had a few nagging doubts about this decision however. For one, I enjoy making games, actually seeing them come to life and having the satisfaction that, whatever small amount of progress I made was down to me and me alone. I also felt like this was a cop out. I’d found something that was hard and decided to work around it rather than work at being better at it. But my biggest doubt was whether I would even enjoy working in the AAA industry. The horror stories are too prevalent to be entirely exaggeration, the pay is terrible compared to my current job, and job security seems non-existent.

For a while I considered trying to team up with a designer and work on their ideas in my spare time. That still has an appeal, but it doesn’t get rid of that nagging feeling that I’m running away from design just because it’s hard.

So over Christmas I’ve spent a lot of time soul searching, reading,watching, and listening to people talk about game design, in particular Jonathan Blow and his and Marc Ten Bosch’s Indiecade talk on one design aesthetic. And I’ve come out the other side feeling as though design *is* something I can do if I work at it, and that in fact in my last prototype (Sphero, now renamed Blip Legend as a working title) I had the embryo of a game with a lot of potential, but I was being too mechanical with it’s design and spending too long focusing on interesting technology.

So, for 2013, I will:

Rebuild the Blip Legend mechanics in Unity

Get a vertical slice of the game implemented as early in the year as possible

Focus on the design of the puzzles above all else, not worrying about fun, but making the game interesting

Be in a position to bring an artist on board towards the end of the uear.

It’s a tall order given that I have a fairly demanding day job, but I’ve finally decided that this really is what I want. It may take me another 10 years to get there, but I’m determined that one day I will be indie full time.

Wish me luck!

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