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.

Current List of UI Screens

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.

Musings

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.

Book of Demons – Variable Length Maps

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!

Published by WeirdBeardDev

One day a crazy, wild-haired troll gave me a quest to create a video game. I know C# so I armed myself with Unity and a load of game dev tutorials so I can go questing. Now I call myself a "game dev" and pretend like I have a clue. :)

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5 Comments

  1. The “sitcom of games” – I like that! I’m also in that group of gamers that generally doesn’t have the time to play games as much as I used to. I really like that concept of feeling “accomplished” and still having fun in shorter timeplay bursts.

    As to whether 3 months is a long enough period for an indie game – it really depends on the type and scope of the game, how many are working on it, and whether we’re talking full-time 40+ hours each week or a couple hours each night.

    From your UI interface, it appears you’re planning on having up to 6 party members – that’s cool! Have you given much thought yet on the different characters that will be joining the player on the quest?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea, that “sitcom of games” comment really stuck with me. I keep turning it over and over in my head. I really believe something is there and can be tailored to multiple games and player styles. The Book of Demons does a decent job of setting time expectations.

      For the 3 months thing, that was my first reaction as well, it all depends. I’m thinking given my personal schedule I would probably look at a 3-6 month window and then go from there. However, this goes along with another entrepreneurship point, people buy things that they are familiar with in some way. Whether that be a product or a brand, people want to feel “secure” in their purchase. So the more games of decent quality (and higher) you have on the market the more likely the person has heard of you and hence the more likely they will purchase your product. Building that reputation can take years sometimes, and then the choice becomes do I spend 4 years building 1 game, or do I spend 4 years building 16 games? From a maths perspective the 16 games is better, because if they like even 1 of those games they can find more of your games to spend money on. There are a lot of variables in that line of thinking but the shorter time frame for developing a game looks like a better deal for a solo/small indie company.

      For the characters, I plan on the basic four, fighter, rogue, cleric, and wizard to start. From there I will add in other classes for variety, so maybe a paladin, ranger, sorcerer, monk, etc. I want to draw upon D&D, Pathfinder, Bard’s Tale series, Wizardry, and other sources to find a good mix. I’m leaning towards using D&D 5e as a basis for gameplay, that way I’m not delaying my game by creating a new RPG ruleset.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely give yourself more credit – you’re more valued and prepared for this role than you think!

    I thought most of your discussion points were really interesting – personally I play games almost exclusively in 30 minute or less bursts now i.e. a game of Overwatch, simply because I have no time. And then at the weekends I’ll try to fit in a wee two hour session or so – so personally I would find a game where the range of tasks and the time spent to complete them varies enough that I can participate in them at different times of the week!

    RE: How long it takes to make a game, I heard the 3 month thing for a mobile game before, but not for a PC game. Equally (and I know you said this) because that’s 3 month’s full time game dev, it becomes difficult to quantify. I thought Pathfinder would take three months… It might end up being triple this. We’ll see.

    Glad you’re feeling a bit more out of your paralysis. Especially when starting to make a new game, it can be very difficult to maintain that motivation, so the best thing to do, is just convert that motivation to discipline. Work on your game, at set intervals, in the same way you HAVE to go to work at set intervals.
    Try to treat it less like you can just get to it whenever – but equally forgive yourself if you have resort to that. At the end of the day, you have a whole other life on top of the game dev life, so give yourself a break!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes I get a strong case of imposter syndrome, and I have found I work better once I have expressed it and gotten it off my chest. Thanks for the pep talk. 🙂

      You make a good point about the different lengths of gameplay depending on the situation. So if a game allows the player to pick shorter time “missions” as well as longer time “missions” then they could tailor their experience to their situation. Hmmm.

      For the 3 month thing, see my comment to Mike@PAUSED. TLDR; I think the idea has merit, however, it has a lot of variables each solo/small team shop must decide for themself.

      Liked by 2 people

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