A game a week

Guy with a plan
Heath Ledger (as Joker) in The Dark Knight, channeling my thoughts

I suck at staying focused and on-task. I loose motivation, get easily distracted, start other projects...
That's especially true if it's a long-term creative endeavor, or a somehow boring or repeating task (bug hunting, playtesting, practicing something, ...), or if I don't see any results/get no feedback.

1/365 - My fellow AGFA
1/365 - My fellow AGFA from my flickr photostream, this year's first picture of my (failed) 365 project.

That's the reason I have to force myself to DO stuff. I had to have music lessons to learn how to play the guitar. I had to go to university in the morning so that I went to lesson. I tried multiple times to make photography 365 projects, once I even managed to finish it, but I stopped uploading after a few months and only have the pictures on my computer. I had to quit my dayjob to force myself to finish games (let's see how that turns out).

Amaze Logo
A Maze./Berlin's face, taken from it's facebook page
Back at Amaze 2014 I talked to someone (sadly can't remember who it was... ) about thinking of making a game every one-two weeks. The response I got (probably with the best intentions) was along the lines of "give up, kiddo. Nobody does that, already doing one a month is an achievement". This puzzled me, for I already HAD done games in less then a week, I just didn't polish them, or wasn't happy with the result. But with practice it should be doable, right? RIGHT? Saddened, I settled form a game a month or so, but I wanted to get TONS OF PRACTICE. I wanted to get those famous 10.000 hours of work. I wanted to make those famous 10 first games. But while my motivation to make games was higher then ever, my actual energy invested in doing it was at an all-time low: I even stopped making prototypes, focusing the little energy I had left on a university project (which failed in the end). My interest in gaming was incredibly high, but I deleted nearly all my prototypes, I interacted more then ever with indies on twitter while disconnecting my controller and Oculus ... I was torn apart. I slowly was stating to make prototypes again, and to motivate myself further, I quit my dayjob on my birthday, the 30th of July. Now I have an income until december, and I HAVE to earn money making games (at least a bit), or I'll have no money left.

Still trying to get my shit together, I was working on a few games, but none of which seemed to be done in time, or to be able to produce any sort of income. And all the time I still had this weird feeling that I want to make a lot of small games, at least in the beginning.
And then I decided to go to Join - 1st local multiplayer summit

Join – 1st Local Multiplayer Summit
A gaming session during Join from localmultiplayer's flickr photostream, shot by Julian Dasgupta

This was one of the best decisions of this year: I met a metric ton of amazing people (people I semi-stalked followed online already, but also people I (sadly) didn't know before). Sure, I met a few people at Amaze too, but somehow at Join my social anxiety took a break. I saw a lot of great talks, even more great games, and being there and talking to the devs (who probably don't remember me at all, I was just a random stranger, like dozens of others) was incredibly inspirational. Even just listening it when others had conversations, or when somebody explained something, was more educational then months and months of reading tutorials and books. The approachability of the devs was amazing.
Let me tell an example: I will never forget how I was playing .lazr. by Kevin "Gaeel" Bradshaw (it's a wonderful game, seriously, check it out) against Gaeel himself and Adriaan de Jongh (I think I've never seen a person with more energy then Adriaan!), and I made some comment about how I liked the look of the actual lasers, and Gaeel immediately dropped the controller and spent over 10 minutes telling me how to achieve the effect, and answering all my questions, basically teaching me how he did it. This kind of openness is mindblowing, and I really didn't know how to deal with it. And this wasn't a single case: I had similar experiences with nearly all the devs that were present. No matter if it was a follow-up question to a talk, a question about the game's design, or a technical problem I was thinking about for a while, this was a great group of people. I really hope that I can be the kind of person that fits in this community.

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because of one conversation I had at Join: After gathering all my courage to overcome my inhibition I approached Adriel Wallick with a few follow-up questions about her talk "Some Words About Local Multiplayer" (stop reading now, and go check out the talk. I am serious. I'll check the logs to see if you clicked the link, and if not I'm gonna be angry), about getting games into space (which just reminds me that I didn't get a reply from my contact at ESA, I should follow up...), and about making a lot of games. It was a very short conversation, but you know (because you watched the talk, RIGHT?) what my main interest was: her "A game a week" project. She is making a game a week since nearly a year (at the time of writing this, she's gonna stop when she has completed a year). Honestly, that was the main reason I approached her: I wanted to confirm that I understood it correctly: she was making a game a week since over 30 weeks, successfully. As it turns out, that's exactly what she was doing. This was fantastic, this just calmed down all the doubts I had for months now: I have to suck it up and make games. It's not an impossible task, knowing she's doing it gave me an incredible push. I was gonna do an a game a week project myself.

I made a game (EXTREME BALLS!), finished it and released it. A lot went wrong while doing it: It took over a week (I started too late, I traveled exactly those days (and I don't have a notebook), I spent too much time procrastinating), it's incredibly buggy, it doesn't look as good as I hoped to make it look... but as a proof of concept, it worked. I knew I can do a game in a week. I also quickly discovered my biggest problem with making a game a week:

I also started making a game for the second week (I literally only created the project and drew a cube), but then I traveled again, and my computer broke, and then I had all other kind of excuses, because I'm just lazy as fuck. Every weekend I felt terrible for not doing a game that week, but my inner Schweinehund (sometimes German has just the right words) was just too strong. I read the article Why make a game a week?: Learning game development in public when it popped up in my twitter feed, and I regretted not making a game that week. Every day, when I saw Jonathan Mann's song a day I was sad that I didn't make a game. When Spotify played something from Jonathan Coulton's "Thing a Week" I got angry at myself for my laziness. I logged into flickr, saw all the 365 groups, and was had this horrible guilt fits because I never finished posting a 365, and now I didn't even start the Game-A-Week. I watched Game a Week: How to Succeed, Fail and Learn a few times while doing household chores (multitasking, yaay!), to get some motivation back (randomly stumbled upon it when going through talks I could listen to while doing chores, because I needed motivation for them too... ). Another hilarious motivation source is the Indie Whipping Bot (by Lucy Morris) on twitter (I still have the idea of making a small raspberry pi with a framed screen on the wall, just displaying it's latest tweet...)
I decided I'll start with the actual project when I have a homepage. Having a homepage again is something I was looking forward to since a while, and was kind of important for me. Now I have it, I should start with the project.

So the game a week project is starting on the 27th October 2014. I make a game a week, for as long as I can. The quality will vary, the scope will vary, but it is a game a week. Wish me luck.

The Games:



    An abstract local multiplayer downhill racing game with balls.
    It's mostly just a buggy mess.
  2. GAW-1, Take 2: A-MazeBalls!

    A platformer where you play a bouncy ball collecting red cubes
    Simple, small and short, but my first full game!
  3. GAW-2: First failure

    Second week of the project, and already the first failure.
    Because of lack of planning I had no idea what I was doing, and how to achieve it. Thus I have nothing usable. Better Luck next week.