I recently participated in the Ludum Dare game jam, which is a challenge/competition where you make a game by yourself from scratch in 48 hours. I talked above my experiences in that game jam in another post, but one of my main takeaways from that game jam is that I still have plenty to learn to perfect craft.
I’m lucky enough to develop games for a living at Centervention, where I make social-emotional educational games that are used by tens of thousands of students all over the country. I love my regular job and it definitely helps me to enhance my game development expertise on a daily basis. That said most of our games tend to be 2D dialogue-driven, point-and-click adventure games in a custom HTML5 game engine. This style of game is great for teaching social-emotional skills, but it can only benefit me to branch out and develop some other styles/genres of games on the side.
As the game jam illustrated for me, some core game development techniques aren’t instinctive for me and takes more time than I’d like, especially when I’m using an unfamiliar game engine, in this case Godot. Basic game development techniques need to be second-nature for me to be at the level that I aspire to be at. Basic stuff needs to be so instinctive so that I don’t really need to think about them and can focus more energy on designing implementing the more advanced things that would make my games special.
So I think I need to take a step back from focusing on releasing commercial/marketable mobile games. I need to not worry about trying to sell anything on my own right now, and instead do things that force me to make and release lots of small games quickly.
Doing more game jams will definitely help with that, but I’m debating if I want to do something like challenge myself to build and release a game every 30 days, even if they are cheesy games that I give away for free. It’s an idea inspired by the now extinct One Game a Month Challenge. I can blog/tweet/Instagram about the progress and release the source code so that I have accountability. Force myself to make games I wouldn’t normally make, genres I don’t normally play as a learning experience. Then after 6-12 of small mini-games released that way I should be more at a point where I can churn out basic games quickly without as much effort, and can focus on more advanced stuff.