12 months, 12 games?
So, I started off this year with a challenge to myself: make 12 games in a year; one per month.
The idea behind this was to keep myself motivated while throwing out a few projects on itch.io so that people could get to know me and what I'm capable of creating.
This was also meant to help me get a job at a "proper studio", by building up my portfolio while also gaining experience shipping games and working on parts of games that I otherwise wouldn't.
So all in all, this started incredibly well, and I'm really proud of the first 5 games I made. Problem is, I've had trouble delivering them lately, and that's basically because I have again lost the motivation to create a project from scratch each month in Unreal, work on it, then release it via itch.
It's actually a very tedious process which goes a bit like this:
- Create a project in Unreal Project Manager
- Set the project up
- Set the editor up for the project
- Switch off various plugins in Unreal for Git, VR, etc.
- Change all source files to have proper copyrights
- Check into source control
- Set up source control plugin for Visual Studio
- Set up source control in Unreal
- Create various boilerplate classes
- Add modules for various Unreal subsystems that aren't enabled by default (e.g. UI support!!)
- ... actually make the game ...
- Add a pause menu
- Add credits
- Add a main menu
- Add quality settings
- Add quit functionality
- Export the game & test it
- Create itch.io project page & set up
- Set theme of itch.io page to match other games
- Take and upload screenshots and/or video
- Upload binary to itch.io
- Post to this blog (hi!)
- Post to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Retweet/Share own post on social media
- Upload source code to github
As you can see, the "making the game" part is very tiny. A huge portion of it is "Unreal boilerplate" and a lot of it is getting the game presentable and ready for release. So that sucks. Plus, I recently did get that dream job in a "proper studio" (yay 😁!), which has taken a lot of my time and energy (boo 👎!).
So here's what I'm proposing. No more 1-game-per-month as it stands. Instead, I'll work on my long term project, slowly chipping away at it with the intention of releasing a demo in some number of month's time (nice and non-commital, right?). I'll also explore prototypes as I have been doing, but at my own pace and probably in other software packages (I've been playing with Godot recently - it seems pretty damn amazing!).
How's that sound?
On the more positive side, over the past 7 months I've levelled up my experience in the following technical skills:
- VR - locomotion/teleport systems, hand manipulation, VR level and sound design
- Procedural generation of levels and the challenges faced
- Custom shaders/materials for UI and how best to apply them
- Animations in UMG
- How to make plugins in Unreal
- Paper2D - 2D sprite(sheet) support in Unreal
- How to make AI that responds to user input
- Text input using the "Game Viewport" class
- Data structures in blueprint and C++
- Sub-levels and level streaming, custom level loading tech
- Physics constraints (ropes/springs)
- Character animations
- More advanced particle effects
But, perhaps more importantly, I've learned the following:
- How to create, polish, and release a game on itch.io from start to finish
- How to connect with "influencers", and bump up a game's visibility
- How to take note of feedback, act upon it, and communicate with players
- How to effectively communicate via blog posts and social media, and how to coordinate information release
Not as cool as the first list, but will prove super useful when the time comes to ship my big game project and support it.
So for now, no more cool prototypes (unless they're made in Godot or Unity!), and no fixed timelines for them. However, I'll pour the new found time into working on my "real" project, which will hopefully see the light of day (or a demo) soon™.
- Joe -