The one year game develpoment duel



What Have I Been Up To?

Most people who come to this site would be under the impression that it is abandoned. That’s partially true. But just because there is little activity here, that doesn’t mean I’ve been doing nothing. The truth is that a lot has been accomplished, followed by burnout, followed by a crossroads that I’m now at.

In the summer of 2016, my daughter was 4 months old and I was determined to spend all of my spare time working on this game. For that year between ~July 2016 and September 2017, I worked solely on the game. These weren’t all 40 hour weeks because family comes first. Still, a good amount of time was put into the project. My latest status update shows some of that work, but it doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s been done. Documentation for each framework, performance testing, caching, a macOS build, refactoring, scrapped design decisions and on and on and on.

If you had asked me right before September 2017 when the game would be done, I would have confidently told you that summer 2018 would be a beta, and it would take $30,000 to $50,000 more for it to be polished enough to launch.

But then I had to stop programming for 3 weeks.

  • A week of house fixes before guests arrived.
  • A week hanging out with the guests.
  • Hurricane hit my city, which took away another week.

These harmless 2 weeks took quite the toll on me mentally. Once everything settled down, I could not bring myself to program. I stopped just long enough to realize that I wasn’t enjoying myself. Nothing could motivate me to look at the depressing mountain of a todo list that this game represented.

I decided to take a break. Throughout November and December I enjoyed other things, and spent longer holidays with family. In January, I fixed everything around the house that I had been putting off. I thought for sure by February my motivation would return. It didn’t.

In March 2018, my wife suggested a small program for a digital picture frame. I said sure, and got to work. I had absolutely zero desire to sit in front of a computer and work on this, but I agreed so that I could see if my passion could return. Fortunately, it did. I really enjoyed working on a small, defined project with no spending and no pressure.

From there, momentum started to build. I created a few websites and got caught up on all of the modern CSS/HTML changes that I’ve missed out on. I moved this entire site to Netlify and changed the CMS to Hugo. While doing that, I made minor improvements to the design, and put a tiny bit of work into making it responsive. To top it off, the comment system is static now too.

I seriously considered giving up on the game at this point. I was having so much fun, I figured game development was just not fun for me. Before quitting the project, I decided to make a website to celebrate what has been accomplished, and the people who have gotten me this far. Small clip below:

While making this site, I fell in love with the game again. So much work has been done. Amazing art has been produced by great people. Still, it wasn’t meant to be. The final task for me was to create an ~hour long video showing the first 4 levels completely played through. This would only require a few bug fixes to become a reality. As I was making the changes, I realized that I was enjoying myself. I put the memorial site on hold.

I would be lying if I said I’m ready to work on the game full time again. However, I am programming full time, and I’m enjoying it. Hopefully, this translates to more momentum on the game. For the first time, I’m not sure what the future of this project is. I may finish in 2 years, I may finish in 10, and I may not finish at all. Or, I could open source it. We’ll see. I can say that this is now just a hobby, and not something that I want to do professionally (or, at least, not a sole indie developer).

3 of you did not hold your tongue!
  1. That’s so cool to hear/read I can totally relate to the motivation up and downs. Sometime you just need to look at what has been done to feel it again. Cheers

  2. I started following your journey back when you two started and was getting into game design with Corona SDK at the time. Life happened on this end too and plans changed. Did you ever try to bite off a smaller, simpler game project at any time along the way as a side project? Just curious.

    • Never a full project, but I did check out other areas of game development. For example, I downloaded and did intro tutorials with Unity, Unreal and Godot. Nothing seemed to kick start ambition.

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