The one year game develpoment duel




The official winner of this competition (and bragging rights) is going to be the brother whose game makes the most money, but all won’t be lost if I come closer to my end goal of becoming a game developer. Bruce Lee said that, “a goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at”, and here are the targets that I’ve set out to hit.


I want to release a polished game and avoid adding another mediocre iOS game to the world. I think this is my most ambitious goal because I’ve read the post-mortems and stories of hardship. Releasing anything is hard work and I have serious doubts as to the feasibility of releasing a polished iOS game (think Great Little War Game) in one year, with no experience, and on a budget of 25k. Meeting this goal is my number one priority because if I can launch a polished game, then I’ll have likely met my other goals.


My financial goal is to earn $.01 more than Ryan and win this competition. I do think I’ll be disappointed if the only people who buy my game are my wife and mom, but I won’t be upset if this game doesn’t earn much money. This is my freshman year of game development and I’m ok with paying a price to learn. My main goal is to gain an understanding of game development, and I understand that education can come at a cost. I’ll be upset if what I learn can’t help me earn a living from future games, but it’s too soon to focus on money.


As a freshman in game development, I want to learn the fundamentals. I stress fundamentals because it’s natural to want to jump into something new and accomplish too much too soon. I’ve gone down that road and the result is a hack with few long-term learning benefits. I want to lay the foundation to a future in gaming and my three main education expectations are to learn:

A New Programming Language : Whether it be C, C#, Lua, JavaScript or some other language, I want to come out of this having learned a new programming language. This means I can’t rush things by cutting and pasting tutorials without understanding the syntax and structure of the underlying code. It means spending time on obscure bugs, even though there might be a “quick fix” on stackoverflow. I need to find out a language’s limitations and experience the problems that are time sinks for beginners and trivial to experts.

Game Art : I have no intention of becoming an artist, but I do intend to learn how art is created and how artists work. Even though I’m not a web designer, I became a better web programmer and teammate by understanding how web design works. I would expect it’s beneficial for game programmers to understand how games are designed.

The 4 P’s of Game Marketing : Marketing 101 teaches us that successful products depend on the correct mix of the right product, sold at the right price, in the right place, using the right promotion. I need to figure out what type of game people want to buy, how much it should cost, which platform to build upon, and how to promote a game. This is going to take trial, error, and money but an understanding of game marketing will be useful with any game I ever build.


Join the Community

I’d like this experience to result in the meeting of new people and me becoming part of the gaming community. If I learn how to create a game, launch a game, and even make a little money, it would be disappointing if it happened in isolation. It’s hard to succeed in isolation and it’s important that this competition introduces me to new people and new ideas.

Beat the Enemy

Ryan likes to ask people who they think is faster between the two of us. This is because we participated in a 100 m sprint when he was 16 and I was 18. Ryan beat me by a fraction of a second and is quick to point it out anytime we’re moving in the same direction, either physically or mentally. If I lose this competition, then I will know about it for the rest of my life. I do not want to lose this competition.

Enjoy the Ride

When I created my last company, Wufoo, I was younger, less experienced and broke. I risked a lot in that venture and while I wouldn’t trade the 7 year experience for anything, I can honestly say that I didn’t really enjoy the ride. Paul Graham, one of our investors and founder of YCombinator, said that a startup is, “Compressing your whole working life into a few years” and I would agree with the sentiment. I feel like the stresses involved with that type of startup override the joys, and I don’t think this experience has to feel the same.

I want to enjoy the ride this time around and that means a few things. It means my nights and weekends belong to my friends and family. It means I won’t get sick due to lack of sleep and stressing every little setback. And it means I won’t stop exercising for the sake of a few more hours of code. I believe constraints and balance are critical to my long-term success and that my professional and personal goals can succeed by setting boundaries now.

1 of you did not hold your tongue!
  1. I'm Nicholas Mamo - founder of Nyphoon Games (, from where you referenced the "Hardships of a Game Developer" article! Sure, game development can be a real chore and hardships do abound, but nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction when something you make is appreciated by a community of gamers and developers. So without further ado, create! Share! And keep making games! Best of luck on your thrilling journey! :)

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