The amount of stress I experienced in trying to finish Turn by Turn Racing the past few days made me want to analyse what I did wrong. Why didn’t I finish it? Why did I get so stressed about it? Below is what I think my problem is.
I first had the roguelike racing game idea in March, but I was busy on Disco Dungeon, (another multiple-month game that didn’t get finished,) so I didn’t start on it until April. It took a while to build a prototype, but I liked the idea of turn-based racing, and quickly came-up with all kinds of ideas of cool things to add: a career mode where you carry your car from race to race, until you die in a racing accident; online play-by-mail style multiplayer; a victory dance minigame.
However, I still managed to keep myself fairly controlled with development – my todo list was split into ‘Need’ and ‘Want’ (a technique I highly recommend) and I mostly stuck to it. I was happy with all the new things I was learning – using a physics library, creating levels in Inkscape as svg files, touchscreen gestures, and generally getting familiar with libgdx, the library I was using.
Sounds pretty good, right? And it was. But as I got closer to the end of May, the second month, it felt like I never got closer to the game being complete. I’d built this perfect game in my head, and I couldn’t seem to reach it – I kept getting bugs I couldn’t explain because physics was new to me. I got frustrated with my inability to make it within what I thought was a reasonable amount of time.
Why the pressure to get a game done? Because of 1GAM: One Game A Month. Releasing a game in a month is possible. Plenty of others are managing it, and after all, I can make a game in a weekend during Ludum Dare, so a month is plenty of time, right?
Wrong. Sure, a game is possible, but I’ve been trying to make games that are too big and too polished to manage in a month. Three months is more likely, and even that might be too little. I’ve been giving myself unrealistic goals, and trying to reach them has affected me very negatively.
The only game I’ve made start-to-finish within a month so far is my LD entry DropPix. Every other month I’ve rushed to try and complete something, and often failed. So, I’m not going to worry about 1GAM any more. I’m in no way leaving – I love the community, and incentivising game development is great – but it won’t be the focus any more. Completing a game will be a nice bonus, not the be-all-and-end-all.