At a Glance
Analysis paralysis sucks! I spent waaaaay too much time thinking about stuff and not getting anywhere, hence the George Jetson theme. After I finished the movement code I had no single “next task,” instead I had a dozen different options. No sooner would I start on one then my brain kicked in and directed me to work on something else. Then I started that and then moved to another, and so on, and so on. I broke out of this endless cycle on Wednesday and created a rough user interface for the main screen. Armed with this I will implement a basic UI next week.
I had some interesting thoughts on standardizing play times for games and how much time is too much time to create an indie game. Read on to find out more.
On a personal note, whenever I find myself spinning in circles I stop and pick a starting point, knowing that eventually I will make my way back around to where I started. However, on the second go round I will have more experience and can make better decisions.
Breaking the Paralysis
I don’t know about you but sometimes I get stuck in a mental loop of “what next, try this, nope, what next, try this, nope, what next…” Honestly, sometimes I caught myself staring at the monitor for an hour not having done anything but thought about what I could do. Sometimes too much choice is as bad as too little choice. On a personal level, I feel daunted by game dev. I mean I feel comfortable with business coding and I have years of experience backing me up on that. However, I have zero experience with … wait a minute…
As I typed that I realized I sold myself short. I actively played Dungeons & Dragons for most of my life, by which I mean 30-45 weekends a year for most of my 20s and half my 30s. (I still play today, but not as often.) I DMed for most of that time and I created numerous adventures and scenarios that my friends and I still reminisce about to this day. Hmm, when I look at my experience that way I have more than I thought I did, and more importantly I have lots of situations to draw upon to help guide me forward.
Speaking of moving forward, I broke out of my analysis paralysis and created a set of user interfaces for my game. Initially, I worked in Visio but I really don’t like it for quick UI prototyping. Either way that’s what I have this week so I went with it. I ended up thinking about lots of different screens I hadn’t given any thought to and while I didn’t design them all I created placeholders in my design document. The first one is the main interface, and the second one lists all the screens I can think of right now.
Once I got off this thing (a la The Jetsons) and realized I have years of experience creating adventures I feel good about my quest again.
How Much Gameplay Is Enough?
I attend a local group of game devs, PixelFest Devs, who meet monthly and hang out. I got into a conversation about how much time people have to play games. I found most of the people serious about advancing their talents don’t have much free time for games anymore. I can relate. I used to have hours upon hours of time to play games and could easily spend all weekend playing a game without much thought.
However, today it’s different. I recently spent about 5 hours playing Bard’s Tale IV and loved it. The kicker – the only reason I could do that was because it was my birthday and I treated myself.
So back to the PixelFest Devs meetup and the discussion around this. One of the devs said if he could get a solid 30 minutes of gameplay and feel like he accomplished something, it would be perfect. I made an off-hand comment that he wanted the sitcom of games. I got a few chuckles and the conversation continued. I made a few other comments but an idea buzzed in the back of my head. Can games work within the “standard” entertainment timeframes we use for TV and movies?
This requires more research, thought, and discussion. What do you think, if you know you could feel accomplished by playing a game for 20, 45, 90, 120, or 150 minute time slots would help you manage your time or play more games? Book of Demons has a interesting way to pick the size of the dungeon you will explore.
How Much Development Time Is Too Much For An Indie Game?
Another conversation I had at PixelFest Devs centered around how much time should be spent on creating an Indie game title. The main guy of the group – who incidentally owns his own game dev company, actively makes games, and ran a KS for Swap Fire 2 – stated that three months is probably the right amount of time. (Remember he’s full time on game dev so YMMV.) He went on to say that any more time than that wouldn’t give me enough financial gain to outweigh the time drain. So I added that to my mental list of musings. At what point do you release your game and learn from the results? Where is your point of diminishing returns for time spent vs money earned?
Keep on Questing!
Sometimes I need to pick a direction and go, and sometimes I need to realize I bring more experience to the table than I initially think I do. I feel good about writing this blog and will probably expand my Musings section so that some topics get their own blog entry.
During the upcoming week I plan to finish mocking up some important screens (character sheet, inventory, etc.) and have the main screen UI implemented in Unity. My wife will create the graphics in the next week or two. Exciting times are ahead!