I’m starting random, part time game development again. Last time I did this with any sort of regularity was sometime around 2015 as part of the One Game A Month Challenge, which after this month ends will be no more.
Back then, making a game was fun, and making it in a month was a challenge. After making around ten, I was somewhat burnt out with the idea. My problem is that I get lost in the minute details of the programming, creating elaborate debug menus and clever sprite management systems instead of games people want to play. It turns into Space Invaders, with a really clever runtime editable configuration file - but it’s still Space Invaders that you’ve seen a million times before.
The other problem I found was picking the right tool to make games in. Back then the choice was fairly simple; write your own, use something that costs money, or try one of the emerging cross-platform engines that promised the magic of code that would run under most operating systems. It took a lot of effort to learn one of them, and by the time I became comfortable using a particular tool, I was committed and didn’t want to change. Or I’d get a toolchain working, only to need an update which broke things in obscure ways. Nobody needs to fix their build environment, just to be able to fix their game code.
Mostly though, I found nobody played the games. I guess that faced with the instant gratification of Flash games, downloading a zipfile and extracting unknown executable files put most people off. I’d spend a month or more making a game, only to find nobody downloaded it, or seemed that interested.
Things have moved on though, HTML5 is now a viable place to make games, and with highly restricted environments like Pico-8 and TIC-80 it’s possible for one person to make a game and it be in a format people will play. I’ll give it a go and write about the experience here. Hopefully if I get around to making something I’ll put that on here also.