This post is migrated here from my 2011 blog

It might be getting old, but I will again mention that participating in Ludum Dare was the best decision I made this year, I urge all game developers interested in the skill of making actual games (rather than just talking about it or making cute main menus -I did both hehe-) to try it and work hard at succeeding, the moment you succeed in finishing fun games within 48 hours,.. the results will surely send shockwaves into your future.. it’s such a pure concentrated experience in gamedev, it’s just beautiful.

And just so you know, I’m not the only one who’s going crazy about game jams all of a sudden.. because of the massive awesome success in LD#21, next weekend alone (at the 17th) there are 7.. yes that’s 7 different game jams! this is a first..

Let me clarify a few things that I’m being asked about:

My timetable experiment is not over, I’m just testing things with the training wheels off, and I’m now -unconsciously- much better at time management! (unconsciously competent) I’ll go back home tomorrow and perhaps put the training wheels back on for further improvement

About why I haven’t worked on First Defense recently, I frankly was shocked after LD#21… and I said it in the post-mortem, Prison Escapor a game I developed in 72 hours is more fun and have more creative and commercial value than my most ambitious First Defense design!

I know why First Defense took all this time (and it still has one level that isn’t even that fun!).. I pushed quality too far. And even with a bit of help from my friend the talented Islam Wazery (Menopia), the quality is still too much for a first commercial first Flash game (second Flash game now after Escapor :D), so now I find myself a bit stuck. and I have a hard decision to make:

  • Toughen up: I could toughen up and carry on with First Defense until it’s finished, this could take anywhere between 2 months and 4, I don’t know anymore.
  • Lower quality: I could drop the quality level, even though the design depends on it, and that will make First Defense of even less value as a game than it is now, but at least I can finish it much faster, perhaps in a month.
  • Cut My Losses: Only create a demo of a few missions, the first 4 most likely including 1 boss fight, using current quality, and release it on Kongregate as a free demo. If people liked it and demanded more, we could return to First Defense later to make more stuff.

I’m leaning towards the last one, seeing that it’s the only way I could leverage the code and art we made so far and at the same time, I could move earlier into projects that sound, look, and play more indie. Menopia if you are reading this now, I’d like to hear what you think.

New Experiment: Rapid Indie Gamedev

What will happen if I kept doing back-to-back 48 hours personal game jams? :D

Most likely I’ll die of exhaustion in two weeks, or if I’m lucky I’ll stay in a good mental institute for a month eating brainz and living like a zombie, but how about I add a little balance to it, and a few rules…

Let’s see, hmm… okay… time to list the rules:

  1. I am to make a game and finish it in 48 hours based on a single idea (Death, Sleep, Dreams, Escape, Defend, etc…), that’s the main goal.
  2. In case I couldn’t finish it entirely, I can add 24 more hours, which should be enough to create a few more levels and pretty much make the game more complete.
  3. I release the game somewhere players/testers can test, rate, and comment. And take a 24 hours well earned rest.
  4. After the rest, if the game isn’t that good, and players didn’t like it or the concept as a whole, I just start a new game. <go back to 1>
  5. If it has potential, and players liked it, I get 48 hours to polish it and create better graphics, sound effects, add music, more levels, etc..
  6. Then I get 24 more hours to prepare game for release, I may contact a sponsor or just release it directly for free.

For now, I’ll stick to simple ideas like Escapor, until I’m comfortable enough and capable to expand to larger games, at which time I get to modify the allowed time to develop the game. So if I for example think that a game concept will take me 96 hours to develop, I’ll do that. If it wasn’t enough I’ll add half the time (48 hours) to finish it.. Then release it for testing, and if it’s good I’ll take another 96 hours of polish then 48 hours to prepare and release the final version.

This means even though the initial creation time is 96 hours (4 days), the game may expand to nearly 12 days.. which for games is very logical since the rule states that when you think you finished 90% of a game, you should know you still have to finish the other 90% ;)

12 days + 2 fun days a week = 15 days, about 2 weeks

This is quite an ambitious experiment, and as usual it may end up an epic fail or a win. Regardless I’ll learn so much, and that’s the point.. ^_^

I’ll say what I think is possible rewards out of this to encourage myself in the near future:

  • Making and finishing normal games becomes child’s play, allows me to move to something even more ambitious
  • Designing games is a skill that is very hard to learn, because it can’t be defined solidly, it’s very conceptual and non-technical. This experiment will give me very precious insights into game design, to the point I am not able to foresee the directions it can develop towards at the moment.
  • Best of all, I’m very confident that if I keep it up for 2+ months, I’ll be able to generate a very good monthly income that can only get fatter :D think $6000/month or something within 6 months, indeed I’ve seen indie game developers do even better than that, most famous is Notch and his masterpiece of game design Minecraft.. a single game that made him $20,000,000 in less than a year, and it’s still in beta!

Only imagination is the limit, and imagination embraces the entire world, so Einstein would say :)

Here’s a little motivational speech:

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09 September 2011