Making a game is difficult. From just designing the basic features to writing the first lines of code it’s easy to feel stuck and don’t know where and how to start, and even then it is pretty easy to keep a project dragging for months or just end up abandoning the project. I know it takes me forever to ever finish a project, and that makes it hard to even have something to show.
Which is why that about a year ago I started with the One Game a Month Challenge for a year. I thought it was a great idea to learn how to keep motivated, set manageable goals and not run into feature creep. I also added an extra challenge, as to learn how to impose deadlines on myself, whereas the challenge doesn’t force you to make a game from scratch each month I decided that I had to start and finish the game on the month I made it.
Start of a journey
First to give you guys a bit of a background. Ever since I went to GDC 2015 and I heard about the challenge I’ve been curious about it. And after a year and a half of trying to form a team or help other people with their games, and never have anything released I decided to do the challenge. And this is where the story starts.
It all started in September 2016, I decided to work on a simple platformer inspired by one of the previous One Game A Month themes Finish Line. Ninja’s Training Ground has the player run around, sliding, jumping and gliding around the map trying to find the finish lines. And this is when I noticed this whole challenge wasn’t going to be that easy, having self-imposed these previously mentioned restrictions, and adding of top of that my personal life, and my day job, meant that I didn’t have much time to work on the challenge. So stuff like level design, art and UI design, where taking huge chunks of time from me and because I didn’t have that much experience on any of them I didn’t really know how to speed up the process. So I decided to tone down my design for the next game few games.
This brings me the next month, where I took most of the month to reevaluate my design choices and deciding that for this month’s game I was going to try the 0 Hour Game Jam and did a simple Tic-Tac-Toe game, in about an hour where I practiced touch controls for unity.
But during the rest of the month I was working on the design aspects of game for the next month and doing the ground work for it as this one was going to be used for the local upcoming barcamp, which you can find more about that here. This game I have previously published in this blog. Hex TD is a tower defense game based on hexagons as per one of the themes where I finally understood how and why the unity UI works like it does.
Where the trials really began
On December I decided to dabble a bit into procedural generation with a simple maze game, Maze Escape. This actually being the first 3D game I’ve ever done in unity I had to get used to the controls of the editor and how Unity handles this different things and also which tools does Unity give me to help with this process, as the only 3D game I’ve ever done was one I’ve previously posted The Vincents which was done with XNA that is an engine that wasn’t meant to be used for 3D games so in that me and my college partner had to do pretty much everything from scratch. Here in Unity the engine helped me with all that which sped up the process and I only had to think of the actual algorithms to create the maze.
In the start of 2017 life came crashing down and I didn’t really have much time to work on anything so in about a week and a half I created another procedural generated game, this one being an infinite runner called Escape The Flames. In the previous month I wanted to add fog on the whole maze but as I had never worked with particles before, and didn’t know much about them, I didn’t have the time to add them to the maze, but for Escape the flames this is where most of the work went to, to recreate the feeling of a burning house I had to add a constant running smoke on the screen.
On February I was heading to GDC, and was also doing Train Jam. If anyone reading this doesn’t know what Train Jam is, this is the best game jam ever where you have 52 hours to make a game on a train with no internet. This is a great experience and I was actually going to write an article about it, but I never took the time to do it. In the train I worked with some wonderful and great people, if any of you are reading this (Robbie, Jeremy, Pamela, Martijn, and Elias) thanks for the awesome times working with all of you, and we did an awesome game called Take Your Shot. I mostly worked on the controls and general gameplay of the game. But most importantly made some great friends and enjoyed every bit of the Train Ride.
Over the halfway point
The next month something happened, something called Zelda Breath of the Wild. This marvelous gem of a game took weeks of my life, but this made it so I had to rush my next game as I wasn’t going to give up no matter what. I did manage to work with Unity shaders though and learned quite a bit while doing Arena Shooter.
On April I made TimeRacer a time trial simple race game with only one track where I played a bit with how unity layers and sorting layers work to create the illusion of having tracks over tracks. This made it look like you where on a 3D plane when it was all made in 2D.
This next month I had planned to make this awesome game involving a mixture of procedural generation, inventory management, a simple conversation system and good old-fashioned active turn based combat similar to the classics Chrono Trigger and FFVI. But alas this project was too ambitious for me to be done in a month so I had to quickly scrap it and in a personal one night game jam while visiting my sister in another city, I came up with 30Shoot a space shooter where you had to try and survive a 30 second onslaught of asteroids coming your way. This is actually one of the gems I did during the challenge as I implemented some parallax scrolling for the space background which I like to think looked really nice and also the destructible asteroids that leave some debris as you try to keep destroying them. The other game I was planning to make will probably be done in the coming months and I will make sure to post it here when that is done.
Just on the last stretch!
On June while looking at some sprite resources I had gotten my hands on I wanted to make a Worms like tank combat game. But the environment destruction proved to be too difficult to be done in a month, deciding to scale down I came up with Tank Fight. The game came along great and I used Tiled to make the level design process simpler. The game was pretty simple to make though so I decided to make working water with physics and splash detection using springs and other tools with the help of this tutorial.
But after this no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t come with an idea of what to make for the next month until a friend just mentioned one day to make a Pac-Man clone and so I did. And this is how Munch Muncher was born. This game works pretty much like classic Pac-Man but with only one level.
And here we are on the last month, I decided to bring my scope way down for this one but also coming out with a bang by making another 3D game but also felt like a complete game ready to be published as most of my previous games feel more like gameplay demos. So for this I made Paddler which is like a 3D Pong that instead of playing inside a rectangle you play inside a cube. To make it feel complete I added complete UI for choosing how to play the game, which could be against a variable difficulty AI, or against a second player which automatically made the game work split screen or having 2 AIs duke it out which would make the camera show a more cinematic view of the playing cube. The game also remembers your previously selected preferences. But most importantly of all this game uses bloom effects to make the neon look on the stadium, and this makes it the first time I’ve done any kind of post-processing.
And the Journey Ends
A year and 12 games later here I am having completed the challenge. I feel my skills have improved quite a bit, and my motivation has risen so much from how it was before I started, but even then I still have ways to go to becoming a full-fledged gamedev. But this is not the end it is just the beginning I will keep working on games and will keep posting here as I do. I will first work on the game I had to cancel for the challenge and will try to finish it before the end of the year. And a lot of other ideas I plan to work with, so stay tuned on this blog as I post more updates.