Thousander Club Update: August 14th

For this week’s Thousander Club update:

Game Hours: 166.5 / 1000
Game Ideas: 432 / 1000

Target: 609

There are 26 days left until the deadline for entering a game in IGF 2007: Countdown to IGF 2007

This past week was another one spent mostly at my day job, and so all of my development happened on Saturday and Sunday. I probably could have spent a few more hours in development, but I let distractions get to me, the least of which was the five to ten minutes being tempted to learn Klingon while playing chess online. Thanks, cliffski! B-)

As suggested by others and my own thoughts after writing about porting physics code, I’ve decided to stop worrying about generalizing my engine too much. I will focus on making a Pong clone. I set August 18th as the date that I hope to have it finished, and I spent this past weekend working on creating some simple sprites for the game and designing some classes I would need for it to work. I already knew that if I wrote up a configuration file the way I think I would want to use it, I could code to make it work. I just never think to create other assets. Creating the graphics first helped me to focus my efforts, which allowed me to be efficient with my limited development time.

I’m a bit worried that I will miss the IGF 2007 submission date, but I believe that I can still make it with some serious effort. On the other hand, I haven’t finished a game since a Pac-man clone I did in QBasic in 1998. Is it unlikely that I can make even a slightly innovative game in less than a month?

8 comments to Thousander Club Update: August 14th

  • At this point I would just give up on the current IGF deadline and focus on next year. Its best to submit your game when its ready for the IGF and not use IGF for a deadline. Yes 25 days is enough time to make a game from start to finish that can make it to the IGF, but is it likely… probably not.

    If your goal is to make an innovative game that is fun to play in 30 days, I suggest you stop working on making a perfect engine and just start hacking. Take your top 5 or 10 game design ideas that you think can be done in a day or two and prototype them. You’ll have to basically pull a couple of LD48 style crunches in order to pull it off. Even if you don’t make IGF it might be a good idea to do it so you have a more clear idea of where your game is heading.

    As a programmer with zero art skills, artwork alone will be a huge barrier to getting accepted. You can make it with simple or minimalist art if your game is really good, but I doubt you’ll make it with ugly art.

    You might not care if your game actually has a chance of being a finalist, but in that case you still need to have a playable game with one “level” of content and minimal bugs if you don’t want to get disqualified. It still needs to feel like a solid product… Who knows, maybe you’ll prove me wrong at the next indie meetup :).

    If I was Action I would suggest that you do something like give me the $100 for the IGF entry fee to be your personal game development\design productivity consultant.

  • It seems that even when I think my expectations are unrealistic and I lower them, I still set them too high. I have very little experience with project planning, and so tasks always take longer to accomplish than I expect. Maybe Oracle’s Eye was still too ambitious for someone who hasn’t written Pong or any fairly simple game?

    If I give up on IGF this year under the belief that I am not ready yet, it would take a lot of pressure off of me and allow me to do smaller projects. It doesn’t feel right “giving up”, but I should be much further along than I am. I’d rather make a good show than submit something just to submit something.

    I can build up the experience I clearly lack, and as you said, in the end, an engine will be easier to create because I’ll have a better idea of what engine facilities are needed.

    It never feels right to set a big goal and decide to give up on it. We’ll see what I can pull off in the next few weeks.

  • Yes, it does seem wrong to make a big goal and not follow up on it. That’s why I never give myself any big goals, or at least never announce them to the world until they’re almost done. I actually don’t think you should give up entirely, but at this point you either have to postpone until next IGF, or crunch like mad and hope for the best.

  • The problem with crunching like mad is that it would be mad. I already have crunch at my day job, which cuts into my own time as it is, and to crunch during the time I do have will likely mean no sleep, no food, no communication, and no exercise. I’ll basically get up to sit at a different computer at different points during the day.

    I can take a step back and come up with a challenging goal that isn’t going to kill me. B-)

  • I think you should crunch like mad. Seriously – barring some incident that you have to quit or get fired – you’re going to always be working on that job. So you’ll always “never have time” or whatever. Only those that *do* get things done 🙂 Essentially I think all your extra time (outside of work) should be getting OEP to the IGF, and like Impossible said you’re going to have to forget about that perfect framework and just hack away at it. (Oh sure you can make intelligent decisions, and deliberate a little about how you go about doing stuff, but you should forget about making it perfect and just make it work). Refactor afterwards as necessary.

    Keith

  • Well, I wake up in the morning, shower, get dressed, eat, and then work on OE. Then I go to my day job. Then I come home, eat, and work on OE. Then I sleep. Repeat. Weekends mean I don’t have to go to a day job.

    I will still do the above, but to crunch would mean that I’d have to give up showers, food, and sleep. I’m already wondering about what effect sitting in front of a computer for most of my waking time has on my health, especially my eyes.

    The problem is not that I don’t have time to work. I have plenty of time to work, although I may not always take advantage of the time optimally. The problem is that I only have a few weeks left, and I need to do something differently if I don’t want those weeks to become another year of not having a game completed.

  • My idea of crunch is pretty much work 20-40 hours straight (with breaks for food and sleep of course) over the course of a weekend with a goal of getting a playable game. All your goals are related to gameplay and the player experience (graphics, effects, sounds, UI, etc.), nothing to the engine or tools unless you can do minimal work on them for a big reward. If you do 2 or 3 of these over the next month along with your normal development, you will have something playable and it might be very good. Depending on the scope of your game you could have something great with only one inspired crunch.

    The only downside is that you might not ever want to look at the code you wrote again :). Of course it is possible to refactor it into something much cleaner. I doubt that you do this already, I’m assuming you probably work 4-8 hours every weekend?

  • There’s also the entry fee to consider, and the competition. We’ve been working on Blobyrinth for a year and a month, and while it was never really an extremely original, complicated, or pretty game, it should be stated that we don’t consider ourselves to have much of a shot at IGF goodness. Getting OEP into shape to be a contender for “finalist” could, of course, be pulled off in a handful of weeks, but you had better have some darned original gameplay — I’d imagine the competition this year will be more fierce than ever.

    There is another angle that might be worth a look, however, and that is this: Do you know what you are capable of doing in 3 weeks of crunchtime? If the answer to that question is “no”… it might be worth doing just to find out. This type of self-knowledge is pretty handy to have lying around when you’re considering projects (or contracts!) for yourself or your team.

    At any rate, best of luck with whichever path you embark upon!

    -Tim

Twitter: gbgames

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